Science - Nature
By: - at May 26, 2013

15 Wild Animals Deadly to Humans

Deadly LionEvery year, thousands of animal encounters end in death. These encounters often involve a human becoming careless and getting too close for the animal’s comfort. However, there have been animal attacks that were unprovoked, and seemed to happen for no apparent reason. While some of these attacks are quite violent others end in death within a matter of seconds, which means that most of the time the victim has no idea what is going on. Some of the most violent deaths caused by animals include those involving great white sharks, hippopotamus’, African elephants, and the saltwater crocodile. Less violent deaths have involved the Africanized honey bee, the blue ringed octopus, and the boxed jelly fish.

15)  Hippopotamus
When thinking of an extremely dangerous animal, few would think of the hippopotamus. Hippopotamus’ can become quite territorial and are the cause of hundreds of deaths every year. The hippopotamus can grow to be around 14 feet long and can weigh around 8,000 pounds. These animals can be found in the sub-Sahara of Africa, and can spend up to an average of 16 hours a day in the water. One of the most likely reasons for a hippopotamus to attack is because they feel that a human is a threat to the school that they are a part of or because they feel the need to display dominance over the human. There are, however, reports of hippopotamus’ that have attacked when unprovoked. These particular instances prove that the hippopotamus is just as unpredictable as other wild animals.


One hippopotamus attack, in particular, proved just how unpredictable these animals can be. In November of 2011, a South African farmer, Marius Els, was brutally attacked and killed by his pet hippo.

Farmer Marius Els Killed by his Pet Hippo

According to Daily Mail, Els had owned and cared for the hippo for over seven years. Though the specifics of the attack are unknown, the autopsy showed that Els had been bitten by the hippo several times, and that he had been submerged under water for an undetermined period of time. While Els was declared dead at the scene of the attack, it is unknown just how long he had been dead before paramedics had arrived.

14)  Great White Shark
The great white shark can typically be found in temperate coastal areas, but can also live in the open sea. These fish can grow to over 20 feet in length, and have been known to weigh up to 5,000 pounds. Great white sharks have remarkable senses, 300 razor sharp teeth, and impressive speeds that easily make them the top predator of the ocean.

Great White Shark

Throughout history, there have been thousands of shark attacks that have ended in death. In February of 2013, there was a great white shark attack that resulted in the death of Adam Strange. The attack took place in Muriwai Beach, New Zealand while Strange was swimming. He was only about 600 feet from the shoreline as he trained for a long distance harbor swim. With hundreds of tourists as witnesses, Strange was viciously attacked by a great white shark that pulled him under. The attacking great white was estimated to be about 14 feet long, and reportedly circled its victim after the initial attack. The initial attack led to the presence of three additional great white sharks. New Zealand police showed up to the scene in an inflatable life boat, but it was too late to save Strange. Shots were fired, and two of the sharks dispersed, but it still took police a couple of hours before they could recover the body from the two sharks that remained circling Strange's body.

Another example of how gruesome a great white shark attack could be is a attack that took place in 1985. In this particular attack, Shirley Ann Durdin was diving in Peake Bay, Australia. While Shirley was looking for scallops, she was attacked by a 20 foot long, great white shark. As her husband and children watched in horror, the shark tore Shirley in half on its first strike. The only part of her body that remained when rescuers arrived was her headless torso, which the shark returned to devour too.

13)  Carpet Viper
Found in North Africa and Asia, the carpet viper kills more people each year than any other poisonous snake. The carpet viper is extremely venomous, and lives in close proximity to humans. Carpet vipers are nocturnal for the most part, and have been known to bury themselves in the sand. Unlike most snakes, the carpet viper gives birth to live offspring.

Carpet Viper Snake
By Shantanu Kuveskar (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Though the carpet viper usually strikes because they feel threatened, there have been some cases of unprovoked attacks. When a carpet viper strikes, the human will experience many different affects. Swelling, blistering, necrosis, spontaneous bleeding, and coagulation are all side effects of a single bite. In 2008, a snake rescue worker was bit by a carpet viper while trying to rescue it. The affects of the bite proved too much for the snake rescuer, and he was pronounced dead two days later.

12)  Africanized Honey Bee
First appearing in the United States in 1990, the Africanized honey bee has become known for its aggressive tendencies. The Africanized honey bee is known for attacking just because there was a noise or vibration. In most cases, an Africanized honey bee will respond in large numbers and in a rapid number. The venom that is injected into their victims is just as potent as the garden variant of honey bees, and they are exceedingly hard to tell apart.

Africanized Honey Bee

The features that make the Africanized honey bee more hazardous, is the way that they behave. Africanized Honey bees are easier to provoke, attack in large numbers, will stay agitated for longer periods of time. In October of 2010, Curtis Davis, 73 year old man was stung over 100 times by a colony of Africanized honey bees. During the attack, Curtis had been preparing land for reconstruction. The colony, which was nearby, became frenzied and swarmed Davis.

11)  Black Rhinoceros

Black Rhinoceros

Found in Africa, the black rhinoceros lives in open grasslands and flood plains. The black rhinoceros can grow to be about 13 feet, and can weigh up to 5,000 pounds. Reaching up to speeds of 40 miles per hour, the black rhinoceros can be quite formidable when agitated. The black rhino can be extremely aggressive, and will charge at anything viewed as a threat. The aggressiveness seems to stem from the animal's need to display dominance over other rhinoceros. In fact, the black rhinoceros population suffers more death from territorial fights than from any other factor. It is estimated that almost 50% of all males and over 30% of all females are killed during territorial fights. Because of this, they have become known as an extremely dangerous animal to be around.

One notable attack, took place in January of 2013 when Chantal Beyer and her boyfriend were honeymooning in South Africa. During their trip to South Africa, the couple visited the South African nature park. According to Daily Mail, the South African guide encouraged Chantal to stand close to a small group of rhinoceros for a picture. Moments after the picture was taken, a rhinoceros attacked Chantal from behind. As the rhinoceros attacked, the animal punctured Chantal’s chest from the back. The attack resulted in a collapsed lung and broken ribs for Chantal. The attack was a costly reminder that the behavior of these large, dangerous animals cannot be predicted.

Chantal Beyer and her boyfriend Right Before the Rhino Attack:
Chantal Beyer Rhino Attack

10)  Blue Ringed Octopus
The Blue ringed octopus is commonly found off of the coast of Australia in shallow waters or tide pools. The blue ringed octopus has a lifespan of about two years. This octopus can measure at about eight inches long, and will weigh in at around .90 oz.

Blue Ringed Octopus

The blue ringed octopus possesses venom that is powerful enough to kill a human within a matter of minutes. There is no real antidote for the venom as of yet. The only option that victims have is a heart massage with artificial respiration. This option is done in hopes of working the poison out of the victims system. When a blue ringed octopus attack takes place, the venom is transmitted through the octopus’ saliva, which is transferred when its beak pierces its victims flesh. The octopus possesses a beak that is sharp enough to cut through a wetsuit with ease. Though the blue ringed octopus is not overly aggressive, they will become defensive if they feel threatened.

9)  Stone Fish
Believed to be the deadliest fish in the world, the stone fish is classified as a member of the scorpion fish family. The stone fish can reach up to 35 cm in length, and is primarily found in the Australian or Indo- Pacific regions. Along the back of the stone fish are 13 rows of venomous spines. The stone fish gets its name for its unique ability to blend in perfectly with surrounding rocks. It is this same ability that makes this fish so dangerous.

Stone Fish Blend in with their Environment and Look Like Rocks
Stone Fish Blend in with their envrionment

In 2010 there was an influx of stone fish related deaths. One of the deaths included an 18 year old male and took place at Horseshoe Bay. The young male was snorkeling and accidentally stepped on the stone fish. The venomous spine punctures the victims skin and transmitted the poison. There were several attempts to save the boy, but each attempt proved unsuccessful. Another reported attack took place in Okinawa off of Koki Beach. The victim was 58 years old, and had been conducting a scuba diving session. The victim was a said to have felt a sharp pain across on his foot, before losing consciousness. Though there were attempts to remove the poison, they were unsuccessful and the diver instructor was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. Throughout 2010, stone fish accounted for around 30 cases of death from marine life.

8)  Black Mamba

Black mamba in defensive posture:
Black Mamba
Photo by Bill Love

Black mambas are known for being highly lethally venomous snakes. Because they are fast, nervous, and extremely aggressive, human encounters have resulted in many deaths. Black mambas can be found in the rocky hills or savannahs of Africa. The black mamba can grow up to around 14 feet long, and can travel at speeds of around 12 miles an hour. If the black mamba begins to feel threatened, they will raise their heads and body off of the ground and begin to hiss. This is the only warning that they will give off before striking. The black mamba has also been known to chase after their prey. In one attack involving a black mamba, a middle aged man was walking past a place where a black mamba had buried itself. The black mamba, feeling slightly disturbed, chased after the man and bit into his leg.

Another black mamba attack involved a man who served as a sort of snake advocate. In December of 2011 Nathan Layton, a student that participated in a South African safari died less than an hour after being bitten by a black mamba. While helping to capture the black mamba, Layton was bitten without even realizing it. About half an hour later, Layton began to experience blurred vision. Shortly after, Layton collapsed, suffered cardiac arrest, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Student Nathan Layton Died From a Black Mamba Bite
Nathan Layton Died From Black Mamba Bite
Image curtsey of Enterprise News

7)  Cape Buffalo
The cape buffalo is considered to be the most dangerous land animal in the world. The cape buffalo can measure to about 59 inches, and can reach weights of about 1,900 pounds. The cape buffalo can survive on all kinds of grasslands in the sub-Saharan African terrain. The cape buffalo has caused more human deaths than leopards, lions, elephants, and rhinos. If the cape buffalo feels threatened or confused, they will likely begin to destroy everything in sight. They have the ability to reach speeds of up to 35 MPH, which makes it harder for them to be outrun.

Cape Buffalo

There have been many different cases of attacks on humans by cape buffalos. One case in particular involved a farmer in his mid thirties who wished to break in and domesticate the cape buffalo. Though the man gave the task his best try, he was unsuccessful. In late September of 2010, the farmer made the mistake of losing his focus while trying to wrangle the cape buffalo. The cape buffalo took advantage of this distraction and trampled the man to death. Though there were attempts at saving the farmers life, the attempts were unsuccessful.

6)  African Elephant
The largest land animal on earth, the African elephant is also one of the most aggressive. Reaching heights of about 13 feet, the African elephant has been known to weigh up to 14,000 pounds. Both male and females contain larger ivory tusk that can be used as a deadly defense weapon. Unlike the Asian elephant, the African elephant is not easily controlled or domesticated. The African elephant has been known to display random bouts of rage for no apparent reason, but has also been known to become extremely defensive of their territory.

African Elephant

In November of 2011, Lisa Dobson and her husband visited a friend’s private game farm on the Shashe River. As Lisa walked with her husband and took pictures of African elephants, she heard the animal begin to trumpet. Lisa’s husband stepped out in front of her, and the elephant became spooked and started charging. Lisa was able to get out of the elephants way, but her husband was not so fortunate. As the commotion died down, and the elephant ran off, Lisa began to search for her husband. A few of Lisa’s friends finally found her husband nearby, but it was too late. The African elephant had completely trampled Lisa’s husband to death.

5)  Polar Bear
Known for living in the Arctic ice sheets, polar bears are a formidable animal. With a possible weight of around 1,6000 pounds, the polar bear can reach heights of around eight feet tall. Typically the polar bear will prey on seals, but they have also been known to kill humans. The female polar bears are extremely protective of their territory, and even more protective of their young. The males tend to be solitary and provide no help or protection to the females or cubs. The aggressiveness that the female polar bear can display on behalf of their young and territory have cost the lives of many humans who have explored the arctic.

Deadly Polar Bear

In 2011, a 17 year old boy lost his life in a polar bear attack in Norway. The 17 year old was camping with the British Schools Exploring Society when the polar bear entered into the campsite. The bear then proceeded to attack the 17 year old, along with five other campers. Out of the five campers who were attacked, only three survived the attack. The other two were found mauled beyond the point of recognition.

4)  Box Jellyfish
Normally found in coastal waters, the box jellyfish is mostly found in Northern Australia. The box Jelly fish can grow to measure up to 10 feet long, while they will weigh about 5 pounds. The average lifespan of the box jelly fish is less than a year. About 15 tentacles will grow on the box jelly fish, with each tentacle possessing about 5,000 stinging cells.

School of box jellyfish
School of box jellyfish

Box jellyfish possess powerful venom that will instantly kill or stun their prey. This venom that they carry is considered to be some of the deadliest in the entire world. The toxins in the venom will attack the heart, skin cells, and nervous system. In most cases, a human that is stung by a box jelly fish will cause the human to go into shock and drown, or they will die of heart failure. The only creature in he world that is not affected by the box jelly fish venom are the sea turtle. In fact, the sea turtle is the natural predator of the box jelly fish.

For creatures other than the sea turtle, an encounter with the box jelly fish would be extremely dangerous. Such was the case in February of 2010, with the death of a tourist on the Island of Langkawi. During this incident, Varina Lofgren was stung by a box jellyfish while swimming. The sting from the jellyfish resulted in her death in a matter of five seconds.

Typical Look of a Box Jelly Fish Attack:
Box Jelly Fish Attack

3)  African Lion

African Lion

The African lion is found in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and live in groups that are known as prides. The prides are a type of family unit that can include around three males, about twelve females, and their offspring. African lions can grow to measure about 40 inches, and weigh in at 265 to 420 pounds. The males are defenders of the pride’s territory, which can extend up to 100 square miles. The males will mark the entire area with their urine, chase off encroaching animals, and will roar at any intruders. The females serve as the primary hunters of the pride. The females often use hunting methods that involve a great amount of teamwork. Their instincts as a natural predator are apparent just by watching them. Unfortunately there are some humans who feel like these predators would do well in a captive, controlled environment. These ideas of control often lead to injury or death for the humans who wish to tame these wild animals.

One example of this would be when 24 year old Diana Hanson was killed by a five year old African lion that was kept in a cage. According to Diana’s father and others, the day that Diana was killed started off like any other. Diana showed up at the Cat Haven Sanctuary to perform her intern duties. While it is unclear what exactly Diana was doing in the lion’s cage, it is clear that normal levels of caution were disregarded. As the lion attacked Diane, her co-workers and friends could only watch in horror. Some tried to distract the lion, but to no avail. By the time the paramedics arrived, Diana was already dead.

Diana Hanson Killed by an African Lion
Diana Hanson Killed by an African Lion

2)  Saltwater Crocodile
The largest living crocodile would be the saltwater crocodile. Weighing in at around 1,000 pounds, and measuring up to 17 feet, the saltwater crocodile is the animal that is most likely to eat a human. The saltwater crocodile is a classic predator. In most cases, the crocodile will wait just below the water’s surface to see if a potential prey will come to the waters. The salt water crocodile is not a picky eater, and will eat anything from water buffalo to sharks. Once their prey is in sight, the saltwater crocodile will grasp their victim and pull it under the surface.

Saltwater Crocodile

These hunting techniques have been seen many times in attacks that involve humans. In December of 2012, a seven year old boy was swimming in the waterways of Northern Australia. As the young boy swam, a saltwater crocodile spotted him. The saltwater crocodile grabbed the small boy, and swam off with him in his mouth. Though the boy’s party attempted to rescue him, their attempts were fruitless. These types of attacks are becoming increasingly common in the Australian waterways. The sea water creatures are protected in Northern Australia, so their presence has increased quite steadily.

1)  Leopard

Deadly Leopard Cat

Found in Northeast Africa, Central Asia, China, and India, the Leopard is a powerful cat that is somewhat related to jaguars, tigers, and lions. The leopard can measure up to six and a half feet, and have been known to weigh around 170 pounds. The leopard has strong skills in trees, and will often haul it’s kill up into trees. Leopards will also use the trees in their method of hunting. Once the leopard is in the tree they will use it as a method of camouflage, and a way to better spot their prey. Leopards are also strong swimmers, and have no issues hunting for fish or crabs.

Leopards usually prefer to live alone and will often become very territorial. These traits will show through in most aspects of their life, including hunting, living, and social interactions. Their preference for solitary living, however, does not mean that they are scared of populated areas. Leopards have also been known to actively seek out humans to hunt, and have been caught in local villages. In one case in particular, a leopard entered in to a house and dragged a four year old boy away from his house. The little boy had been playing inside of his house when the leopard had found him. The police and local volunteers sent out a search party for the boy. The police and volunteers search until late that evening when they found the boy’s body.

There was a leopard attack shot on camera in India:
Leopard attack in India

NOTE: There were many other gruesome photos from this leopard attack that I don't think I should put up here!

Final Words
These animal encounters prove that there should always be a high level of caution when you expect to encounter a wild animal. When you find yourself in a situation involving a wild animal, it is important to remember a few things. First, just because an animal is beautiful, doesn’t mean that it isn’t deadly. Even the most adorable animals have the ability to cause some real damage to a human. You also need to remember that, compared to most animals, humans are quite fragile. In most cases, all it would take is the wrong move or a bite from an animal and your life could be over. It is also important to remember that no wild animal can ever truly be trained. When you disregard the possible threats of a wild animal it will likely end in tragedy. To avoid a deadly attack from occurring, you should always keep your distance and use extreme amounts of caution when near a wild animal.





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