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The 7 Deadliest Animals in Africa

There is no shortage of dangerous creatures on the Dark Continent, but these are the deadliest animals in Africa that kill the most people annually.

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, many of which go unreported.

Due to a combination of 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 the precise number of people animals kill each year. With this in mind, the numbers below should be taken as approximations.

Additionally, keep in mind that this is a list of the deadliest African animals defined as the creatures 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.

For instance, cape buffalo and leopard both attack and injure a large number of people each year. By the same token, shark attacks off the coast of South Africa involving Great White Sharks make lots of headlines each year. However, none of those animals made the list.

7. Lion

These Are the 7 Deadliest Animals in Africa lion
Big Game Hunting Adventures

About 250 deaths annually

While the lion is a fearsome predator at the top of the food chain on the African continent, it's not actually responsible for as many human fatalities as you would think. Attacks on people absolutely occur with regularity, especially at night and in remote areas.

That said, large scale attacks by man eaters on the order of what was depicted in the movie 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.

Indeed, lions kill a fair number of poachers and refugees in parts of sub-saharan Africa with minimal infrastructure or policing like Mozambique.

6. Elephant

About 500 deaths annually

With big, older 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: unlike buffalo or leopard attacks, actual elephant attacks on humans are usually fatal. With all that in mind, the elephant is the deadliest member of the African Big Five (elephant, cape buffalo, lion, leopard, and rhinoceros).

5. Crocodile

300-1,000 yearly

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 the 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, since so many of their victims simply vanish without a trace.

4. Hippopotamus

These Are the 7 Deadliest Animals in Africa hippo
Wikimedia/Diego Delso via CC BY-SA 4.0

Over 2,900

Don't be fooled by their appearance: hippos are extremely dangerous animals. Male hippos are very territorial and females will fiercely defend their calves against any real or perceived threat. Hippopotamus are incredibly large and strong animals with sharp incisor and canine teeth 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 and is also the deadliest member of the African Dangerous Seven (elephant, African buffalo, lion, leopard, rhino, hippo, and crocodile).

3. Ocellated Carpet Viper

These Are the 7 Deadliest Animals in Africa carpet viper
World Health Organization

Approximately 20,000 annually

Also known as the West African Carpet Viper, the Ocellated Carpet Viper is a relatively unknown serpent 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 human 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 than the Black Mamba or Puff Adder 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 snakebites from the Ocellated Carpet Viper and eventually die due to lack of access to good medical care.

2. Tsetse Fly

These Are the 7 Deadliest Animals in Africa tsetse fly
Wikimedia/International Atomic Energy Agency via Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Approximately 48,000 annually

While the Tsetse Fly appears to be just 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 prevalence of the disease is decreasing, tens of thousands of people still contract the disease and die each year.

1. Mosquito

Over 500,000 annually

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, the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself from getting killed by an animal in Africa is to protect yourself from mosquito bites by using insect repellent, sleeping under a mosquito net, and taking a malaria prophylaxis.

And it's not just Africa, as the mosquito holds the top spot on the list of the world's deadliest animals as well.

Like what you see? You can read more great articles by John McAdams on the Big Game Hunting Blog. Subscribe to his show: the Big Game Hunting Podcast.

NEXT: THE 5 BEST COUNTRIES FOR HUNTING IN AFRICA

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The 7 Deadliest Animals in Africa