Some of the world’s deadliest animals reside in Africa. These are the top ten of the most dangerous beasts & reptiles found on the African continent.
10: Black Rhinos
Weighing as much as 6,000 lbs, black rhinos are among the largest creatures in Africa. They’re a critically endangered species & are known to populate Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, & Zimbabwe. Although they’re herbivores, they also have a reputation for being very aggressive & territorial. When threatened, black rhinos will charge at full force, running as fast as 35 miles per hour & using their horns to tear other animals—or people—apart. They’ve even been observed charging at tree trunks & termite mounds. Many rhinos die from combat-related injuries, as they’re known to also duel each other. In addition to their brute force, rhinos are equipped with a deadly horn capable of inflicting heavy amounts of damage to others. Attacks on humans & vehicles are rare but still do occur if they sense a threat to their calf.
9: Great White Sharks
Great white sharks populate oceans all over the world, including the coastlines of African countries. They are the biggest sharks in the world, growing up to 23 feet long & weighing up to 7,300 pounds. They can swim at fast speeds, often clocking in as fast as 35 miles per hour. Due to the number of fatal attacks on humans, great whites have developed a fierce reputation among humans & marine life. Great whites have accounted for at least 272 fatal attacks against humans as well as hundreds of non-fatal attacks. They do not target humans as their primary prey, since humans are far too boney for sharks to digest. Most attacks are usually a “test” bite, where the shark bites the human to find out exactly what it is. Attacks turn fatal when the victim bleeds to death. In the ocean, great white sharks have no natural predator aside from the killer whale, and their diet consists of anything the shark desires. This is known as an apex predator.
8: African Lions
Lions are the second biggest cats in the world, second only to tigers. A male lion weighs up to 550 pounds while its female counterpart, the lioness, tends to be smaller, albeit quicker & more aggressive. Humans would fight lions in Ancient Rome during gladiator events, while references to human-and-lion interactions can be traced back as far back as the ancient texts of the Bible. Based on these writings, it’s clear that humans have always had a healthy fear of these large cats. In 1898, for example, there was what became known as the Tsavo maneaters. During a nine-month period when construction workers were building a bridge over the Tsavo river in Kenya, at least 28 workers were killed & eaten by a pair of lions. While the workers were fast asleep in their tents at night, the lions would stalk the campsite & pull the sleeping workers out of their tents. Then on December 9th, 1898, John Henry Patterson—the leader of the Kenyan bridge project—was able to hunt down & kill both lions, thus ending months of terror. While it is the lioness who has a reputation for being a vicious hunter in the wild, male lions have been known to stalk & prey on humans. Surveys show that lions have killed almost 900 people over the past 25 years in Tanzania alone.
7: Black Mambas
Native to parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the Black Mamba is one of the most poisonous snakes in the world. Each bite can deliver enough neuro- & cardio-toxic venom to kill a dozen men within an hour. Although they’re not always aggressive, they’re capable of striking prey from long ranges & deploy a series of bites to disable their intended target. With such capabilities, black mambas hunt through either ambush or pursuit. They conversely have no natural predator in the wild. Given how venomous they are, black mambas pose a potentially lethal threat to the humans they encounter & are regarded as the second most dangerous snake in Africa. Their bite is often referred to as “The Kiss of Death,” as their venom spreads through the body very quickly. In 2008, British native Nathan Layton was bit by a black mamba & died within an hour from a heart attack.
6: The Cape Buffalo
Also known as “The Black Death” or “Widowmaker,” the cape buffalo accounts for nearly 200 deaths per year in Africa. These large mammals only have one predator in the wild: the lion. Cape buffalos often travel in large herds & are known to be very aggressive towards humans they perceive as a threat. Using their brute strength accompanied by their large horns, they won’t hesitate to ambush, injure, & kill anyone in their path. Hunters pursuing these animals for trophies are at an especially high risk as cape buffalos are capable of attacking even when injured.
5: The African Elephant
Standing up to 13 feet tall & weighing over a thousand pounds, elephants hold the distinction of Africa’s largest animals. They populate most regions of the continent in dense forests, woodlands, shrublands, & deserts. Although they pose a threat to humans, the elephant population has been in rapid decline over the past century; largely due to illegal poaching driven by the ivory trade. Nevertheless, these massive creatures kill about 500 people per year by trampling their victims to death. They can also use their huge trunks as an extra limb, knocking their intended target off their feet. Their massive tusks can also be used to impale their victims. Although the African elephant is not usually regarded as an aggressive animal, human attacks are still somewhat common nonetheless due to the fact that humans pose a major threat to their existence.
4: The Hippopotamus
The word “hippopotamus” comes from the ancient Greek word for “river horse.” That’s because these large mammals often dwell in rivers & other bodies of water in sub-Saharan Africa. Given their large size & aggressive nature, Hippos pose a serious threat to humans, killing about 2,900 people every year while actively defending their offspring & territories. In fact, their reputation is so fierce that even dangerous creatures such as crocodiles & lions do not prey on full-grown hippos. Their true aggression & unpredictability presents a danger towards humans the moment they wander into a hippo’s territory because despite their large size, they can move very quickly for their weight, which can reach up to 3,300 pounds. They’ve clocked in at 19 miles per hour over short distances, which is twice as fast as the average human’s running speed.
3: Nile crocodiles
Nile Crocodiles are native to most regions of sub-Saharan Africa, where they’re capable of making a home out of nearly any aquatic region. These reptiles grow up to 16 feet long & can weigh well over 1,000 pounds. Due to their size & highly aggressive nature, they’re considered to be one of the most dangerous reptiles in the world, responsible for up to 3,000 human deaths per year. The Nile crocodile uses its powerful jaws to bite down on its prey with excessive force & little possibility of escaping. As an apex predator, they can ambush & kill almost anything they come across, including humans. Because Nile crocodiles generally live in close proximity to humans, attacks are frequent compared to other crocodile species. But attacks on people are predatory in nature, unlike most other animals on this list, who normally attack humans out of self defense.
2: The Puff Adder
The puff adder is considered the most dangerous snake in all of Africa. Firstly, they’re very aggressive & tend to live in highly populated areas across a number of different habitats. Their venom is also extremely potent. This snake kills more people than any other snake in Africa, causing thousands of deaths per year & many more disabilities. Additionally, they’re known for their quick speed & accurate striking ability, which they use to their advantage when ambushing their prey or to defend themselves when threatened. This sense of being threatened poses a major harm to humans, who oftentimes unknowingly come across one of these snakes. When bit, the victim will experience a number of symptoms such as bleeding, swelling, tenderness, & severe pain. Their limbs will then become paralyzed as the venom spreads & their blood begins to clot. In some cases, edema can form. This is where fluid builds up underneath the skin then oozes out in a watery blood form. If not treated, the skin will eventually become infected & the victim will suffer from gangrene. After that, death will soon follow.
This little insect is responsible for a whopping 600,000-1,000,000 deaths per year on the African continent due to their spread of malaria & other infectious diseases. The majority of these deaths occur in children under the age of five. Malaria can cause a wide range of symptoms such fever, vomiting, joint pain, retinal damage, spontaneous bleeding, & shock. When untreated, one will eventually fall into a coma & die. An average of 430,000 people die each year from malaria, 90% of them being in Africa. Mosquitos are also known to spread yellow fever. In 2003 and 2005, for example, they were responsible for the yellow fever epidemics in Sudan. They’re also known to spread other diseases such as the West Nile Virus, filariasis, dengue, chikungunya, and La Crosse encephalitis. An estimated 700 million people around the world are affected by mosquito-borne illnesses. But in Africa, where many of the people lack access to appropriate medical resources, fatalities are far more common.