There’s a common misconception that around every corner in Africa, there’s a deadly or dangerous animal just waiting to make you its next victim. However this is not at all the case.

In reality, the most dangerous animals in Africa occur only in national parks and designated wildlife areas.

The truth of it is that most of Africa’s wild animals are in more danger from human beings than we are from them. That being said, the continent is home to incredible biodiversity and an array of mega-species which are without a doubt some of the most dangerous animals on the planet.

How many dangerous animals are in Africa?

Africa is extremely vast and home to more than one million species. With a huge variety of large mammals, aggressive predators, and venomous snakes and insects, many of these can be considered as dangerous.

The continent provides a home to 1100 mammals, 350 reptiles, 2300 birds and a plethora of insects. Included in these are; the world’s largest land mammal, the ‘King of the Jungle’, the apex predator of the oceans and the animal responsible for the most human deaths every year!

Most animals  aren’t dangerous to humans in the traditional sense. i.e they don’t want to eat you, aren’t capable of crushing or goring you, and don’t have a venom inflicting bite. However all wild animals are driven by a strong sense of instinct and will fight if they feel like it is their only option.

Here are the 10 most dangerous animals in Africa:


Nicknames like ‘widowmaker’ and ‘black death’ don’t get given cheaply, and the cape buffalo has definitely earned its reputation as one of the most dangerous animals in Africa.

Renowned for its aggression and unpredictable temperament, the buffalo is thought to have killed more trophy hunters than any of the Big Five. These giant beasts can grow up to 1,000 kilograms (2,200lbs) and stand 1.7 metres tall.

The Cape Buffalo | The Most Dangerous Animals In Africa

They live in large herds, which move with an intimidating presence. Even at a safe distance, the stares of aggressive bulls are impossible to ignore. Herds work together to eliminate any perceived threat, and are known to circle back on their victims. Approaching from behind – they charge, trample and gore them do death with their large, fused-bone horns. Even prides of lions aren’t always brave enough to take on a buffalo herd at full force.

Injured buffalo are perhaps even more dangerous and are one of few animals who will actively stalk and attack humans, even when alone. It is estimated that Cape Buffalo kill around 200 people every year.

Buffalo are widespread across the African continent and are commonly seen on open grasslands and near water sources. They are exceptionally susceptible to domestic cattle diseases like bovine tuberculosis, however they are listed as ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN redlist.


Unbeknownst to most, the hippo is the most dangerous land animal in Africa. Despite being a herbivore that doesn’t actively hunt other animals or people, they are responsible for almost 3,000 human fatalities every year.

When observed from afar, hippos appear to be gentle and amusing animals, as they laze around in the shallows. However male hippos are exceptionally territorial and act with extreme aggression against any perceived threats along their section of river or dam.

the most dangerous animals in africa
The Hippo | The Most Dangerous Animals In Africa

Females are not territorial but will attack anything that comes between them and their young or whatever might dare to come between them and the water. They are most vulnerable while out grazing under the cover of darkness and don’t take kindly to threats.

Hippos are the third largest animal in Africa, but despite their massive bulk they can run at speeds of over 30 kilometres per hour (19mph) on land and can weigh in excess of 1,500 kilograms (3,300 lbs). A male hippo’s canine teeth can exceed 50 centimetres (20 inches) and are set in enormous jaws which open to almost 180 degrees.

Seen in almost all of Africa’s wild waterways, the hippopotamus is a common sighting while on safari, however due to human-hippo conflict and habitat-loss they are currently listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN redlist.


Lions are one of only 2 wildlife species on the African continent known as man-eaters. The most famous instance of this was the pride who killed over 100 men working on a railway line in Tsavo, Kenya in 1896.

It is thought that sick or elderly lions, no longer able to hunt fitter prey, turn to humans in search of an easy meal – primarily old males who are no longer supported by a pride. Lions are the apex predators in Africa and are responsible for an estimated 250 human fatalities each year on the continent.

The African Lion | The Most Dangerous Animals In Africa

Mozambican refugees crossing into South Africa via the Kruger National Park are often killed and eaten by lions and in Tanzania, it is reported that these powerful cats kill up to 70 people a year.

Under normal circumstances, lions do not usually target humans for food but rather perceive us as a threat. Their first reaction is to turn and run, however if they feel cornered they will attack. Mothers with cubs are known to be extremely aggressive and do not tolerate any threats.

Lions are common across all of sub-Saharan Africa and spend 20 hours a day sleepy under shady trees before becoming active at night. They are currently listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN red list.


The mosquito is probably the last creature you’d expect to appear on a list of the most dangerous animals in Africa, however they are the deadliest of any life form on the continent.

The different genus’s carry a variety of diseases, which include: Malaria, Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever, and West Nile Virus. All of which can be fatal.

The World Health Organisation estimates that more than one million people are killed every year by malaria and other mosquito-transmitted diseases. 90% of these people are Africans and most of them are children under five years old.

The Mosquito | The Most Dangerous Animals In Africa

The malarial parasite is only transmitted by the female Anopheles mosquito. Often called cerebral malaria, this form of the disease is particularly dangerous and accounts for the vast majority of malaria-related deaths.

Mosquitos are most active around dawn and dusk and are particularly prominent in tropical and wetland areas. There are approximately 3,500 known species of mosquito, and individuals have an average lifespan of around two weeks.

Prevention against mosquito bites usually comes in the form of sprays, lotions or candle repellents as well as mosquito nets used to doors, windows and sleeping areas.


The black mamba is one of the deadliest snake species in the world and without a doubt the most feared serpent in Africa.

The fastest of all African snakes, black mamba’s can move at 20 kilometres an hour (12 mph) and are notoriously aggressive. They are known to strike out when cornered. They are the only snake species known to have actively chased after humans.

They are also the largest venomous reptile in Africa, reaching lengths of up to 4.2 metres (14ft). The black mamba has well-developed vision and is active both during the day and at night. Their methods of hunting vary between ambush and pursuit, with repeated strikes releasing a neurotoxic venom directly into their victim’s bloodstream.

the most dangerous animals in africa
The Black Mamba | The Most Dangerous Animals In Africa

Black mambas inject enough venom in a single bite to kill 10 fully-grown men. The venom triggers an almost immediate onset of symptoms including asphyxiation and cardiovascular collapse. When untreated, the human death rate is 100% after a black mamba bite, and usually occurs in less than seven hours.

Contrary to their name, black mambas are not black. Rather their skin is a grey/brown/olive colour. The name comes from the inside of their mouth, which is inky black and used as a sign of aggression when threatened.

They are usually found in savannahs, woodlands, scrub and tree hollows, and are widespread across East, Central and Southern Africa.