30 Most Dangerous Animals in Africa
More than 30 million tourists visit Africa every year. It's the destination for safaris and on many bucket lists for globetrotters and thrill-seekers. Some of the most dangerous animals on the planet are in Africa, but sadly, many of these creatures are already considered endangered due to poachers and the loss of their habitat as more humans take control of the land.
As with any wildlife you encounter, it's important to respect boundaries and observe the animals from a healthy distance. Most will not attack unless hungry, injured or provoked, which is a reminder to be aware of your surroundings at all times if you're planning a trip to Africa.
With all of this in mind, these are the most dangerous animals in Africa.
Height: 3 feet in length
Weight: 13.2 pounds
Longevity: 15 years
Bottom Line: Puff Adder
This highly toxic snake has cytotoxic venom, which causes necrosis (slow destruction of tissues). The puff adder's bite can be lethal if immediate medical attention is not sought or an anti-venom isn't administered (20 percent of untreated bites result in fatalities).
Despite being venomous, these snakes are not aggressive unless threatened. However, their bite has caused more human fatalities than any other African snake.
Height: 3-4 feet
Weight: 420 pounds
Longevity: 10-15 years
Bottom Line: Lion
Lions are natural predators with the ability to debilitate a human with one swipe of their paws. Usually, a hungry lion will only attack a human that gets too close. Still, some of these carnivores are man-eaters and seek out human prey. Lion attacks account for 250 fatalities each year in Africa.
These big cats are incredibly muscular, agile animals with the strength of six humans. Although their bite force is not much more than a dog's, the lion hunts in groups and will consume its prey wherever it falls.
Height: About 0.5-inches long
Weight: 2.5 milligrams
Longevity: 7 days
Bottom Line: Mosquito
The Anopheles Gambia mosquitoes in Africa are significant malaria transmission sources, making them one of the most deadly animals on the planet. They account for 1 million deaths per year.
In southern regions of Africa, there is rainfall from November to April and, combined with the heat, it creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes. As a result, residents are advised to use mosquito netting and indoor spraying to protect against malaria, which leads to death in severe cases.
Height: Up to 14.5 feet in length
Weight: 500-1,700 pounds
Longevity: 50-75 years
Bottom Line: Nile Crocodile
These animals are hazardous due to their fearlessness and a stronger bite force than any other African animal. They are particularly aggressive when threatened and capable of taking down large prey, such as a full-sized hippo.
Nile crocodiles prefer live prey and eat pretty much anything that moves, including humans. Estimates show that these crocodiles kill 200 to 300 people per year.
Height: 4-10 feet
Weight: 1,320-2,090 pounds
Longevity: 35-50 years
Bottom Line: Rhinoceros
Rhinos are notorious for bad eyesight, and since they cannot rely on their eyes to determine a threat, their reactions can be unpredictable. They only become aggressive if threatened.
For the most part, rhinos are relatively passive and prefer to be left alone. Therefore, they are not as dangerous to humans as poachers are to them.
Height: 4-12 millimeters (length of body and legs)
Weight: 3.8 milligram
Longevity: 1-2 years
Bottom Line: Sac Spider
The venom from a sac spider bite causes toxic effects on cells and damages skin tissue. The severity of bites varies, from redness, swelling and blisters to a sore that takes weeks to heal.
Although they are not deadly or as dangerous as a brown recluse, their venom can cause pain, nausea and anaphylactic shock in humans.
Height: Up to 13 feet
Weight: 5,000-14,000 pounds
Longevity: 60-70 years
Bottom Line: Elephant
Due to their sheer size and strength, an elephant can quickly kill humans by trampling them. If they feel threatened, they can charge up to 30 miles per hour, and they account for roughly 500 deaths per year.
Older, solitary males and males in the "must" stage (higher testosterone levels) are more prone to charging and are especially dangerous. But elephants are also highly socialized, intelligent and gentle creatures that will not usually attack unless provoked.
Height: 2.3-3 feet
Weight: 89-140 pounds
Longevity: 20 years
Bottom Line: Spotted Hyena
The spotted hyena is a predatory animal far more dangerous than the striped species. Larger and with a more aggressive nature, the females are especially dangerous while guarding their young with a bite force strong enough to crush bones.
Typically, hyenas are scavengers, but they will attack livestock and humans when they are injured, extremely hungry or threatened.
Height: 4-inches long
Weight: 1-2.5 grams
Longevity: 4-25 years
Bottom Line: Deathstalker Scorpion
The deathstalker is one of the most dangerous species of scorpions. Their venom is a potent mix of neurotoxins that can cause pain, swelling, nausea, headaches and diarrhea.
In severe cases, the scorpion's bite can also cause fluid retention in the lungs and lead to convulsions. If anti-venom is not administered within two to seven hours, fatality may occur.
Height: 5.2-feet tall
Weight: 3,500-4,000 pounds
Longevity: 4-50 years
Bottom Line: Hippopotamus
Despite their cute appearance, hippos are aggressive animals with large tusks, powerful jaws and razor-sharp teeth capable of bisecting a human in one bite. They account for roughly 3,000 deaths per year and are considered the deadliest, large land animal.
Many of these attacks occur when the hippo wanders onto land searching for food.
Height: About 5 feet
Weight: 660-2,000 pounds
Longevity: 23 years
Bottom Line: Cape Buffalo
In East Africa, the Cape buffalo is also considered one of the most dangerous animals due to its large size, massive horns and aggressive nature. They spread diseases to other livestock, including bovine tuberculosis and foot-and-mouth disease. However, the Cape buffalo is not dangerous unless it is wounded or if its calf is under attack.
If necessary, they can charge a human at a speed of up to 35 miles per hour if angered and, according to fatality records, account for 200 deaths per year in Africa. For this reason, the animal has earned the nickname "Black Death."
Height: 5.6-9.2 feet
Weight: 140-320 pounds
Longevity: 50 years
Bottom Line: Ostrich
Considered one of the world's most dangerous birds, Ostriches can run at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour and deliver powerful death kicks to large predators.
However, despite their aggressive manner, an ostrich will not attack a human unless frightened or provoked.
Height: 4.5-6 feet
Weight: 150-500 pounds
Longevity: 40 years
Bottom Line: Gorilla
Gorillas aren't necessarily dangerous unless threatened. They send out warnings through a series of grunts, hoots, foot-stomping and beating their chest. These powerful animals can certainly kill a human because of their defensive instincts.
But for the most part, gorillas are gentle, friendly primates that share 98 percent of their DNA with humans. Like many wild animals on this list, they will only become aggressive if threatened.
Height: Up to 14 feet in length
Weight: 3.5 pounds
Longevity: 11 years
Bottom Line: Black Mamba
The potent venom of a black mamba snake contains deadly neurotoxins that shut down a victim's nervous system, paralyzing them very quickly. One bite has enough toxins to kill 10 humans, causing them to collapse within 45 minutes after being bitten. If anti-venom is not administered, the black mamba's bite is 100 percent fatal.
These lethal snakes are also large and fast, slithering at 12 miles per hour to chase prey. As one of Africa's most dangerous creatures, it's best to avoid these aggressive snakes at all costs.
Height: 6-15 millimeters in length
Longevity: 2 weeks to 4 months
Bottom Line: Tse-tse Fly
Although a tiny insect, the Tse-tse fly can transmit the trypanosomiasis parasite responsible for the African Sleeping Sickness. Symptoms of the disease include fever, fatigue, muscle aches and headaches.
The Tse-tse Fly bite can result in sleep and psychiatric disorders, coma and even death in severe cases. Symptoms do not appear until several months after exposure; however, the chances of infection are less than 0.1 percent.
Great White Shark
Height: 11-21 feet in length
Weight: 1,200-2,400 pounds
Longevity: 70 years
Bottom Line: Great White Shark
One of the world's most feared sea creatures, the great white shark is a predatory fish that accounts for the most attacks on humans (along with bull sharks and tiger sharks). Since the shark is colorblind, it is believed that the majority of attacks are based on mistaken identity, as the great white sees humans as seals, which is their preferred prey.
Although bites delivered to humans are rare, the numbers show an increase in attacks over the past 20 years.
Height: Up to 3 feet
Weight: 46-160 pounds
Longevity: 12 years
Bottom Line: Cheetah
Cheetahs are typically docile cats that prefer to avoid contact with people. However, they are defensive animals that will attack if they sense danger. They're lightweight cats that can chase down most fast-running prey but only pose a risk to humans if threatened.
Unfortunately, the species is close to extinction due to poachers and the migration of people into wild areas that were once the cheetah's habitat.
Height: 4-11 millimeters
Longevity: 1 year
Bottom Line: Button Spider
The venom from the button spider is highly toxic, leading to respiratory failure, disorientation, pain, nausea, sweating and elevated blood pressure. Anti-venom needs to be administered immediately following a bite.
The brown button spider is less venomous, but a bite from a female black button spider can cause life-threatening symptoms if not medically treated.
Height: 1.5-2.5 feet
Weight: 33-82 pounds
Longevity: 35-45 years
Bottom Line: Baboon
Baboons have powerful jaws and a strong bite force capable of snapping bones and killing intruders if necessary. They live in large packs known as troops that range in up to 50 family members, and they readily attack for food.
Baboons are very aggressive animals; if you happen to encounter one, never bare your teeth, smile or look them straight in the eyes, as this will be seen as an act of aggression. An alpha male will not hesitate to attack if he feels his family or territory is threatened.
Height: 19 millimeters
Weight: 4,000 bees together only weigh 1 pound
Longevity: 5 weeks to 3 years
Bottom Line: Killer Bees
Also known as Africanized honey bees, the killer bees are dangerous because they attack in large numbers to protect their hive. They usually target the eyes and face first, but due to their sheer group size, they can cover the entire body of their victim.
These deadly bees patrol their nests and will chase an intruder for up to a quarter of a mile. Unfortunately, they're also capable of taking down large mammals and even humans, especially children and elderly people who cannot escape a swarm.
Tarantula Hawk Wasp
Height: 2 inches in length
Weight: 0.02 ounces
Longevity: 3 weeks to 5 months
Bottom Line: Tarantula Hawk Wasp
The sting from the tarantula hawk wasp is considered one of the most painful bites of all insects due to its colossal stinger. They are the most prominent member of the spider wasp family, preying solely on spiders — specifically, tarantulas, which they paralyze and feed to their young.
The tarantula hawk wasp is not deadly to humans, but its sting causes unbearable pain that lasts roughly five minutes.
Siafu African Driver Ant
Height: 6 inches in length
Longevity: 8-10 weeks from egg to adult
Bottom Line: Siafu African Driver Ant
Also known as the safari ant, the driver ant is a large species found in central and east Africa but is sometimes found as far as southern Africa and Asia. They live in enormous colonies of over 20 million ants!
Although the driver ant is capable of stinging, they mostly rely on their powerful shearing jaws to kill. A large column of ants can kill a small mammal and wreak havoc on a home if they swarm the property.
African Rock Python
Height: 10-16 feet in length
Weight: 70-121 pounds
Longevity: 20-30 years
Bottom Line: African Rock Python
Although non-venomous, the sharp teeth of an African rock python can cause severe lacerations, and the animal can kill large mammals such as the antelope. They use their strength to squeeze and suffocate their prey.
Fortunately, human fatality from the African rock python is rare.
Six-Eyed Sand Spider
Height: 1-2 inches around
Longevity: 15 years
Bottom Line: Six-Eyed Sand Spider
The venom from this spider is said to be one of the most dangerous on record. A cousin to the recluse spider, bites from a six-eyed sand spider are especially lethal to smaller animals, killing them within five to 12 hours.
The toxins in its venom cause blood-vessel leakage, destruction of tissue and thinning of the blood. Unfortunately, there is no anti-venom for this deadly bite. However, the spider is generally shy and rarely bites humans.
Height: 3-6.2 feet in length
Weight: 77-130 pounds
Longevity: 15-19 years
Bottom Line: African Leopard
These fast, vicious animals are extremely dangerous and will attack humans for a meal. Aggressive and unpredictable, they're even more hazardous when injured and are known for their tenacity in chasing down their next kill.
The leopard is also a nocturnal animal that hunts alone when it's easiest to grab unsuspecting prey, which they can quickly kill in one powerful bite to the throat.
Height: Up to 4 feet in length
Weight: 25-40 pounds
Longevity: 10-12 years
Bottom Line: Caracal
The caracal looks similar to an ordinary house cat but with oversized ears, sharper fangs and retractable claws used to shred and kill prey. Like any wild animal, the caracal instinctively attacks anything or anyone it deems to be a threat, including humans.
Their keen hearing and incredible agility enable them to silently stalk and leap on their prey. Although this cat mainly feeds on small birds and rodents, they're capable of taking down animals as large as antelopes.
Height: Up to 3.5-feet long
Weight: Up to 62 pounds
Longevity: 15 years
Bottom Line: Goliath Tigerfish
The Goliath tigerfish looks similar to a piranha but is four times the size and has dagger-like teeth used to slice their prey in half.
Native to Africa, this vicious fish has little fear of anything or anyone and can rip a large chunk of flesh off a human in a single bite.
Height: 6.5 inches
Weight: 1-2 ounces
Longevity: 5-8 years
Bottom Line: Emperor Scorpion
Although not deadly to humans, the emperor scorpion has venom that contains toxins that can be painful if stung. Despite its tough exterior, this scorpion is quite docile but will use its large stinger if provoked.
The venom is not deadly unless you have an allergic reaction to it, so it's best to avoid this insect when out in the wild.
African Wild Dog
Height: About 3-feet long
Weight: 35-50 pounds
Longevity: 10 years
Bottom Line: African Wild Dog
The African wild dog looks like a painted wolf with brown, black and beige patches. They are intelligent, social creatures that hunt in packs of six to 20 animals and can take down larger prey, especially if it's slow or injured. With one of the strongest bite force quotients of any carnivora, these wild dogs have sharp teeth designed to crush bone.
Although they are not a threat to humans, African wild dogs prey upon livestock, and farmers often shoot them on sight. These actions combined with hunting, poisoning and habitat loss have diminished the wild dog population to dangerously low numbers.
Violin Spider (Brown Recluse)
Height: 1-inch long
Weight: 0.001 pound
Longevity: 1-2 years
Bottom Line: Violin Spider (Brown Recluse)
Also referred to as a "fiddle back," the violin spider has cytotoxic venom that can cause severe wounds and tissue destruction in humans.
The bite is small and relatively painless, but it's essential to seek medical help since an ulcer and necrosis can occur a week or more after being bitten by a violin spider.