There are lots of things on the Dark Continent that can quickly end your life, but these are the deadliest animals in Africa.
While most of the creatures in Africa aren’t really dangerous or aggressive, messing with some of the animals on the continent can really be hazardous to your health. The deadliest animals in Africa are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths annually, a large portion of which go unreported.
Due to poor record keeping and the fact that a large portion of deadly animal attacks occur in remote portions of the continent, it is difficult to determine precisely just how many people these animals kill each year. For this reason, the numbers provided below should be taken as approximations. That being said, it’s still clear that some animals really stand apart from the rest in the sheer numbers of people they kill.
Additionally, this is a list of the deadliest animals in Africa defined as the animals that kill the most people yearly. This is not necessarily the same as the animals that attack the most people, the animals that have the deadliest venom, or even the animals that are the most aggressive, so keep that in mind as you’re reading.
Keep scrolling to learn all about the seven deadliest animals in Africa.
While the lion is a fearsome predator at the top of the food chain in Africa, it’s not actually responsible for as many human deaths as you would think. Attacks on people do absolutely occur with regularity though, especially at night and in remote areas, but large scale attacks by man eaters on the order of what was depicted in The Ghost and the Darkness are virtually unheard of in modern times. However, countless natives simply disappear into the bush each year, some of whom are invariably killed and eaten by lions.
Source: National Geographic
With big bulls weighing over 6 tons and standing over 13 feet tall, the African Elephant is the largest land animal in the world. In addition to their massive size, they are tremendously intelligent and enormously strong, which makes them absolutely deadly when angry or threatened. This is why you don’t hear many stories about people being injured by elephants: actual elephant attacks on humans are quite often fatal.
Source: Crocodile Attack Info
The lion may be the “King of the Jungle”, but the Nile Crocodile is the undisputed top predator in the waters of Africa. They hunt by ambushing their prey when they enter or come close to the water to drink. Not surprisingly, crocodiles take a frightful toll on people gathering water or crossing rivers that these reptiles inhabit. Just like what happens with lion attacks, it’s really tough to pin down precise numbers of the people crocodiles kill though, since so many of their victims are people who leave home to go to work or fetch water and simply vanish without a trace.
Source: Mother Nature Network
Don’t be fooled by their roly-polly appearance: hippo are extremely dangerous animals. Males are very territorial and females will fiercely defend their calves against any real or perceived threat. Hippopotamus are incredibly large and strong animals with remarkably large and sharp incisor and canine teeth (see photo below) that enable them to easily inflict serious injuries on the object of their fury. They can also move much faster than you would think an animal of that size could. Make sure you give these creatures a wide berth if you ever encounter one in the wild. Responsible for the deaths of nearly 3,000 people each year, the hippopotamus is the deadliest mammal in Africa.
3. Tsetse Fly
An estimated 9,000-50,000 annually
While the Tsetse Fly appears just to be another annoying biting insect at first glance, it is also the primary vector for the deadly disease African trypanosomiasis, which is better known as Sleeping Sickness. Though the prevalance of the disease is decreasing, thousands of people still contract the disease and die each year. Additionally, the Tsetse Fly also carries a similar disease that infects and kills domestic livestock: Animal African trypanosomiasis. Between the two diseases, the Tsetse Fly is actually a very deadly animal for both humans and livestock.
2. Ocellated Carpet Viper
Up to 20,000
Source: Reptiles Magazine
Also known as the West African Carpet Viper, the Ocellated Carpet Viper is a relatively unknown snake that may actually be the deadliest snake in Africa. Like many of the deadliest animals in Africa, it’s difficult to determine the exact number of people killed by this snake, but it’s estimated that it could be responsible for up to 20,000 deaths annually!
The Ocellated Carpet Viper’s venom is not as potent as that of a Black Mamba and it is not as large or aggressive either. However, while the Ocellated Carpet Viper may not be as dangerous as the Black Mamba on an individual basis, it actually racks up a larger body count because it is a far more prolific snake and it lives in close proximity to large numbers of people in West Africa. For this reason, thousands of people receive bites from the snake and eventually die due to lack of access to good medical care.
Over 500,000 each year
Source: World Heath Organization
That’s right: the mosquito is actually the deadliest animal in Africa and it’s not even close: more people die from mosquito borne illnesses like Malaria, Dengue Fever, and Yellow Fever than from all other creatures on this list of the deadliest animals in Africa put together.
With this in mind, using insect repellent, sleeping under a mosquito net, and taking a malaria prophylaxis are actually statistically the best things you can do to keep from getting killed by an animal in Africa.