Most people have one animal phobia or another, be it a fear of sharks thanks to sensationalist blockbusters or a horror of anything that creeps and crawls—but when it comes to which species are worth being afraid of? The answer might surprise you.
Ferocious beasts of all shapes and sizes can be downright deadly. Some actively cause large numbers of human fatalities, while others are relatively unknown but extremely lethal when contact is made. It’s just part of the reason why animal advocates and wise tour guides always advise against touching or interacting with wildlife.
Below are the most dangerous animals in the world—and where you might encounter them.
#1 African Elephant – Responsible for an estimated 500 Ԁᴇɑтһѕ per year
Reaching weights of up to 7,000 kg the world’s largest land animals can often be unpredictable, with older bull elephants, young males, and elephants with babies particularly dangerous to anything that crosses their path. Unprovoked ɑттɑᴄᴋs by elephants on humans are occasionally reported, usually by male elephants in musth (a sexually active period when testosterone levels increase).
Each year around 500 human Ԁᴇɑтһѕ are caused by African elephants trampling and crushing their victims. In areas where poaching occurs, or the elephants’ habitat is in danger, elephants tend to be much more aggressive.
#2 Hippopotamus – Responsible for an estimated 3,000 Ԁᴇɑтһѕ per year
Although hippos are herbivores, these highly territorial animals are estimated to ᴋɪʟʟ an incredible 3,000 people per year.
Male hippos fiercely defend their territories – which include the banks of rivers and lakes, while females hippos can get extremely aggressive if they sense anything getting in between them and their babies, who stay in the water while they feed on the shore.
Hippos weigh up to 1,500 kg – the third biggest animal in Africa behind the elephant and rhino – and can run on land at speeds of up to 30 km per hour. Combine this with their aggressive nature, agility in and out of the water, and sharp, half-meter teeth in enormous jaws, and you can understand why hippos make for such a fearsome creature to encounter.
#3 Cape Buffalo
Reportedly responsible for ᴋɪʟʟing more hunters on the African continent than any other creature, these behemoths, which can grow up to nearly six feet tall and weigh close to a ton, circle and stalk their prey before charging at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.
They’re even known to continue charging when injured, and will not hesitate to ɑттɑᴄᴋ moving vehicles. Suffice to say, you don’t want to mess with those horns.
Though they’re the second most poisonous vertebrate on the planet (after the golden arrow dart frog), they’re arguably more dangerous as their neurotoxin (called tetrodotoxin) is found in the fish’s skin, muscle tissue, liver, kidneys, and gonads, all of which must be avoided when preparing the creature for human consumption.
Indeed, while wild encounters are certainly dangerous, the risk of Ԁᴇɑтһ from a pufferfish increases when eating it in countries like Japan, where it is considered a delicacy known as fugu and can only be prepared by trained, licensed chefs. Even then, accidental Ԁᴇɑтһѕ from ingestion occur several times each year. The tetrodotoxin is up to 1,200 times more poisonous than that of cyanide, and can cause deadening of the tongue and lips, dizziness, vomiting, arrhythmia, difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis, and if left untreated, Ԁᴇɑтһ.
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