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10 Most Dangerous Game Animals

These 10 dangerous game animals will cause death or serious physical injury if you are not careful.

joe riekers
Photo by Joe Riekers

As a professional hunter, I have dealt with some dangerous animals both in the United States and in African countries. Most aggression from animals is a result of fear. An animal will go out of their way to avoid confrontation but if it comes down to it, most will fight their way through.

North America does not have an abundance of large predators and few large animals with sharp claws and teeth. Mountain lions are relatively recluse, alligators are seldom encountered in a hunting situation and wolves tend to avoid humans under normal circumstances. Africa, on the other hand, has a fair share of large predators, animals subject to constant predation and animals so huge they are fearless of humans. These are the most dangerous animals that are typically encountered in a hunting situation.

Grizzly Bear

Image via Blogspot

Grizzly bears, as well as brown bears, are extremely protective of their cubs. They are highly efficient predators that can easily kill animals as big as moose. The incredible power of these bears is what makes most attacks fatal. Besides serious bite and claw injuries, the amount of force to the human body from a blow delivered by a bear will break bones and damage internal organs.

Polar Bear

Image via San Diego Zoo

The polar bear is the king of the ice-laden arctic. Everything living is food and prey to polar bears. Their diet consists mainly of seals, muskox and fish. Since it is impossible to get away from a polar bear on foot, any close encounter is likely to be deadly. Bears that venture close to villages tend to respect humans. The bears may steal carcasses, scraps or food waste when seals are not abundant. However, when polar bears live far from humans, any warm blooded mammal is food to them.


Image via Southern Destinations

Rhinoceros have several sub-species. Only the southern white rhino, aka square-lipped rhino, is legally hunted today. A rhino is known more for its belligerence than its ferocity, and can run up to 30 miles per hour. Rhinos in captivity have been known to weigh up to 7900 pounds, although they are typically 1000 pounds less when they are free-ranging. Rhinos may be the most protective mothers in nature with little tolerance for anything getting near the babies. If a rhino head-butts, the massive weight and heavy horn will readily inflict fatal injuries.

Related link: Facebook Deletes Teen Hunter's Photos of African Game Trophies


Image via National Geographic

Crocodiles kill more humans on the African continent than almost any other animal. Most of these deaths are from people who fell out of a boat, were wading or swimming. The crocodile views the movement as a viable prey animal. These prehistoric animals can easily weigh over 1000 pounds. Their incredible jaw strength and sharp teeth cause massive injuries but drowning is usually the main cause of death of their prey, including humans.

Cape Buffalo

Photo by Joe Riekers

Known as Black Death throughout Africa, the cape buffalo is deadly because of its speed, weight and sharply hooked horns. The majority of buffalo charges are from wounded buffalo however they do attack without provocation on occasion. Buffalo are preyed upon by lions and sometimes sustain bad wounds that cause them to have an ill temperament. Buffalo that have been injured by a spear, snare or bullet are not tolerant of any intruders. I was able to take this photo just as a cape buffalo began to charge me, my fellow PH Ettienne and my tracker Charles. The attack was sudden, silent and from very close range. I trusted Ettienne with his double rifle to fix the problem.


Image via Sunsafaris blog

Leopard charges are seldom deadly but the extent of bodily injury and the potential for infection is very dangerous. Nambia has a track record of leopard attacks on hunters pursuing them with dogs. A lot of leopard hunting takes place at night and over bait. The hunt itself is fairly safe but the initial tracking and recovery of the animal is risky, to say the least. Leopards also stalk and attack humans, thinking they are prey animals even in daylight. True dangerous challenges occur in Far East Africa, such as Tanzania, where leopard hunting is only permitted during daylight.

Related link: Op-Ed: Justifying African Big Game Hunting


Image via Rajib

The King of the Jungle actually spends most of its time in the Highveldt or grasslands where it is indeed king. With virtually no predators, lions kill animals that are 5 times their weight. Lions, like all cats, will sometimes kill for fun too. Lions are particularly fearless in their pride where a single human is outnumbered 4 or 5, at least. Nearly silent when charging and extremely hard to see in long-grass, a lion kills its prey by biting the neck and head.


Image via Burrard Lucas

Hippos that live in "Karongos" - little pools of inland water - protect their home, food source and sanctuary fiercely. There are two kinds of "rogue" hippo bulls. Those that will flee and hide and those that will stand and fight. If you come upon the fighter, a close range standoff will almost always end in a charge. The massive weight and speed will crush a human instantly. A bite from the enormous teeth and heavy mouth can cut you in half.


Image via Scenic Relections

Elephants have few predators. They are protective of their young nearly as much as a rhino - about the most protective of all large animals. Elephants do not suffer from much predation and view a human as a persistent nuisance when we invade their space. Elephants attack by head-butting, stomping and sometimes throwing the person or animal with their trunk. They will also plow their tusk into you if you end up on the ground. Few people have survived elephant attacks.

Related link: Firearms Importing Guidelines for a South African Hunting Safari

Feral Hog

Image via Swarming Tech

Feral hogs, otherwise known as wild boar, razorbacks and boar hogs, are one of the most common and widespread big game animals in North America. More hunters and outdoorsmen are injured by feral hogs each year than all other big game in the U.S. combined. Hogs are only likely to attack when cornered, injured or surprised. The method of injury is inflicted by swinging their large heavy head and catching their sharp tusk on the victim, tearing open flesh. A hog attack is not likely to be fatal, but serious injuries and infections are usually the result.

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10 Most Dangerous Game Animals