Many people are afraid of Africa, although it is certainly not so terrible as we often think - at least not in many places. Wild tribes, rebels, wars, diseases, snakes and other dangerous beasts that you wouldn't want to meet face to face. In this article I want to take you look at the animals that have a tend to threaten people most. You may also be surprised to see which animals are the most dangerous in Africa:

Scary lion

When you say Africa and dangerous animals, many people will surely imagine a lion - a strong and 200kg weight carnivorous cat with terrible vines and fangs. Who would not be afraid? The lion is said to kill from 100 to 200 people each year in Africa. We're not on its typical diet. It is not customary to hunt people for them. But, for example, an old lion, apparently without the females (which were taken by a younger and stronger lion), when he doesn't have energy and power for hunting of its usual prey - antelopes, zebras, etc. - he can also focus on hunting weaker and slower creatures as humans. It is a scary idea that sometimes becomes a reality.

An infamous case that "improved" the lion's reputation as a carnivorous creature and later became the inspiration for some films was the attacks on workers during the construction of the railway in Kenya in the 1890s, when local lions learned to hunt people. Thanks to the “King of the Jungle”, more than 100 people lost their lives here during this project.

100 to 200 people per year. We are not on the usual lion's food-menu, but sometimes we can be. However, the lion is far from being the most dangerous animal of Africa!

Dangerous herbivores

Even the scary king of animals can not equal another African mammal in terms of the number of people killed. And it's even a herbivore! Hippos kill nearly 2,000 people each year in Africa (some sources write over 500, some up to 3,000), that is about 10-times more than a lion, even more than lions, leopards, hyenas and other well-known African predators together!

If it is the herbivore/vegetarian, why is it killing so? Hippos are very territorial. In other words: what or who enters to its territory does not always come back. Many African fishermen or people who came to the water or met the hippopotamus at night on the mainland - when hippos go to graze - pay for this meeting with their own lives.

African wildlife. Wildlfie of Africa. African animals.
Nearly 2000 people per year! This is the sight that local fishermen on simple boats don't want to see. It can be the last one. 

Although we are talking about over one ton weighing animal, hippo is very fast - in water and also on land. Hippos are equipped with really large, pointed teeth that can even break through crocodiles. We are really not a rival for him and it is impossible to defend himself against such aggressive heavy weight.

The hippo is certainly not the only dangerous herbivore. Literally: the elephants are also very strong or even the winning rivals for the lions in this infamous statistic of death. Especially young males in adolescence, especially if they are dehydrated by lack of water, can be crazy and it is better to avoid them! I have a few experiences with an angry elephant, so I have big respect for this biggest animal. Even a car can not protect you against such running of several tons of weighing animal. Elephants can be responsible for up to 500 human lives each year (the most positive statistics and years say "only" about 100). One interesting fact: poachers kill 500 elephants in Africa during less than one week!

Peaceful, nice and family-based… but not always. Up to 500 lives per year. That's more than lions.

Warning signals when the elephant doesn't want your presence: spreading ears and wobbling/swingin with its trunk. When it gives you these warning signs, it's kind of a quite positive thing because the animal gives you a chance. This is better than a direct attack without warning.

Even african buffaloes have more attacks on humans than lions. Buffalos win statistics in Africa in terms of the number of attacks, but unlike the hippopotamus, these attacks do not end so often in death. Nevertheless, these attacks have tens and tens of dead victims per year - about 200 lives per year.

This look tells a lot. 200 human victims per year.

And if you ever hear about about the smaller black rhinoceros, or other name: hook-lipped rhino, believe that this rhino also likes to aim at you. Up to 6 from my 8 encounters with this rhino ended with attack to us. It was just a momentary run and they were not interested in chasing our car longer time. But, meet them without a car… you can be one of the 500 victims, which rhinos kill in Africa a year. Although due to their big decline, I count that this number is also falling.

500 people a year. Since I do not have a picture of a black rhino :D, because we usually started the car quickly and powered the engine to move us away from it, so just one illustrative photo of its quieter relative from Africa - white rhinoceros, or other name: square-lipped rhinoceros.
White rhinos have wide mouth and they graze from the ground. Black rhinoceros with their pointy lip champ bushes/shrubs.

Absolute winners

Crocodiles or snakes (vipers, pythons, mambas, cobras…) have even worse numbers of dead people than the mentioned mammals! The crocodile is responsible for about 2,000 dead people a year (again some statistics say over than 1,000, others up to nearly 3,000). Snakes are said to be responsible for tens of thousands of victims per year! Most of the victims in Africa is attributed not to the scare and fast (the fastest snake of the world) mamba or well-known cobras, but the puff adder (specie of viper).

This and the hippo are the main reasons why many, many African waters are not suitable for swimming. Around 2000 people a year.
You wouldn't be able to catch every snake in Africa like this one… Snakes - tens of thousands of victims per year.

If we want to speak about the coasts of Africa, here is legendary the great white shark - especially on the coasts of South Africa, where they have enough food thanks to sea lions... and thanks to favorite places for surfers, they have also a few opportuniets to meet with a human there. Nearly 200 attacks on humans are attributed to this shark each year, although only a few of them usually end up in death. Sharks only kill about 10 people a year. Despite its reputation and compared to the other animals in this article, it is not a high number.

But the absolute winner that kills the most people in Africa and in the world… are small mosquitos. They don't do it intentionally. They just wants to drink our blood. But they can bring deadly diseases into our bodies. The mosquito stings can kill up to a million people every year! In some years, it is "only" a few hundreds of thousands. That is why it is the most feared animal of Africa - for example, I always get questions about malaria and about this animal when somebody is thinking about visiting of this beautiful continet…

These boys look a bit dangerous, but they were really nice and willing - carrying a gun is common in such Ethiopia.

And it is certainly worth remembering that hundreds of thousands - about half million - of human lives a year is taked/kill by people! Some years are even worse. In this, we are much, much "better" than any snakes, crocodiles, hippos and lions together.

I didn't want to scare anyone with this article. These are just interesting numbers and facts that sometimes what we do not consider as dangerous can be maybe more dangerous than what we do. Otherwise, did you know that domestic dogs kill tens of thousands of people a year??? And of course it is not a reason why I'm not going out from my house, because the chance that a dog kill me is still minimal. For the same reason I will not give up my visits to Africa because I still think it is more likely that a car will hit me on the way to the airport than anything tears me in Africa. I hope. 🙂

Text & photos:

František Fefe Kekely