Discover the 13 Most Dangerous Animals Found in Africa

Written by Rob Hayek
Published: October 3, 2023
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Africa is a vast continent that features some of the most diverse range of animals on the planet. Additionally, it won’t take long for you to find an animal no matter where on the continent you go. But Africa also has some of the most dangerous animals in the world.

We will showcase the 13 most dangerous animals found in Africa and highlight what makes them so dangerous. Furthermore, we will explore their history and how they rule their respective territories, putting them on this list.

13. Tsetse Fly

Image of a Tse-tse Fly

A tsetse fly can bite without warning, and can kill its victim if the bite isn’t treated.

©Wirestock/ via Getty Images

The tsetse fly is the first animal on this list, and it is one not many would expect. Yet, these flies not only fly at 15 miles per hour, but they also bite. These are not harmless insects. Instead, they have the capacity to kill after one bite.

If a tsetse fly bites you, it will create a red sore on your body. Then, it will start to cause all the symptoms of sleeping sickness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC lists the symptoms as extreme fatigue, fever, and severe headaches. Additionally, the victim will likely experience swollen lymph nodes as well as aching muscles and joints.

There is no vaccine to prevent the bite, but there is a way to treat the bite. However, if they do not treat the bite, they could die within a few months. The symptoms begin to show 1-3 weeks after the tsetse fly has bitten the victim.

Tsetse flies tend to gravitate around savannahs and will mainly bite during the daytime. Moreover, they have bitten numerous tourists and those who work in national parks in East Africa. They can also infect cattle. Ultimately, that makes them even more dangerous. It is why they have a spot on the list of most dangerous animals found in Africa.

12. Spotted Hyena

Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) lie on the ground, taken in South Africa

Spotted Hyenas are dangerous in groups, and it’s best to steer clear of them.

©Thomas Wong/

When you are in the Savana, you might encounter these scavenger animals. Yes, the spotted hyena is not going to attack a human face-to-face unless it feels it has a competitive advantage. But they can showcase how dangerous they are if they feel the prey is smaller or if they attack in a pack.

Hyenas will attack if the scenario is advantageous, as they did in 2012, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service. Sadly, it was a scenario where hyenas killed two children and attacked other members of the family. The KWS provides a guide on how to avoid a hyena attack and practice safety when in their territory. Ultimately, hyenas prefer to avoid humans. But they will follow them at night, trailing them closely to observe what they are doing.

Hyenas can weigh between 90-190 pounds. Therefore, the larger hyenas will more likely have the courage to launch such an attack.

11. Puff Adder

puff adder curled up

One of the most dangerous snakes in Africa, the Puff Adder, allegedly kills 32,000 people per year.


The puff adder kills approximately 32,000 people in Africa per year, according to Dr. Robert Harrison, a professor at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Hence, they are a very deadly animal that terrorizes Africa.

They possess long fangs that can snap onto their victim and lock on while injecting a severe amount of venom. Thus, one bite can kill a human being. The effects of the bite can take up to four days. Thankfully, there is an antivenom that can counter this.

The puff adder can grow up to three feet long. Likewise, they are usually brown, gold, tan, or gray. They have heads that are similar to a triangle.

10. Great White Shark

Great white shark close to the surface showing off its huge mouth and sharp teeth

The Great White Shark is the most dangerous marine animal in Africa.

©Vincent Legrand/

Most of the animals on this list are either land animals or creatures that inhabit water sometimes. However, the Great White Shark is the only true marine animal on this list that is among the most dangerous animals found in Africa. The majority of the attacks from great white sharks in Africa occur in the Western Cape.

There were two unprovoked great white shark attacks last year in South Africa, according to the International Shark Attack File. The ISAF also revealed that both attacks resulted in death. Great White Sharks do not hunt humans, as seals are their natural prey. However, they often mistake people for these animals and do not realize it until after they bite.

Great White Sharks do not have great eyesight but have heightened other senses that allow them to track prey. Furthermore, they can smell blood from approximately 100 meters away. It is an incredible skill that makes them one of the most dangerous animals found in Africa.

9. The Deathstalker Scorpion

Deathstalker Scorpion in the Negev Desert, Israel

Scorpions like the Deathstalker can range from West Asia to East Africa and are incredibly deadly.


The Deathstalker is a scorpion not many know about. Yet, it is one of the most dangerous and deadly scorpions across Asia and Africa.

A person can recover from a sting from a Deathstalker. However, the very fact that most of these stings take place in desert climates makes it challenging for people to find an antidote. A sting from a Deathstalker can be lethal to children, even if there is an antidote nearby.

Some symptoms from a sting from a Deathstalker include elevated heart rate. Also, the victim may start to sweat profusely. Some people experience cardiac or respiratory failure. The Deathstalker may not be as popular as other scorpions. Yet, it still retains its title as one of the most dangerous animals found in Africa.

8. Black Mamba

Black Mamba interior of mouth Dendroaspis_polylepis_striking

©Tad Arensmeier, CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

The Black Mamba is a deadly snake that roams the Savannah in Africa.

If you are wandering in the desert in Southern or Eastern Africa, you may run into the Black Mamba. Specifically, you will find these snakes in Cameroon, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Black Mamba is the deadliest snake in Africa. Consequently, a bite from this snake can be fatal if the victim does not treat it quickly.

There have been deaths in recent years, such as the time a South African judge died while on a holiday. Ultimately, more has come out about how lethal these snakes are. It takes approximately two drops of venom for a Black Mamba to kill an adult human being, according to research from Professor Ryan Blumenthal. Moreover, these snakes have 12-20 drops per fang from the time they are born.

Black mambas are not aggressive enough to attack humans without provocation. However, they will attack if they feel a threat is imminent.

7. Mosquito

Mosquito, Dengue Fever - Fever, Malaria, Malaria Parasite, Anopheles Mosquito


The threat of malaria is high with mosquitos in Africa.

Africa has the same problem as the majority of the world, as mosquitos terrorize the region. Conversely, a bite from a mosquito in Africa can kill. African mosquitos tend to prefer sucking blood from other animals rather than humans. However, some mosquitos in Africa have begun biting people. These attacks go up when it rains and when people are sleeping.

The CDC reports that most malaria deaths take place in Africa, south of the Sahara Desert. Moreover, it is more likely to affect young children and others who do not have immunity. A person suffering from malaria will start to experience a fever or flu. Amazingly, a mosquito can implement a parasite that can be dormant after a bite for up to four years.

Mosquito nets, along with insect repellents, sprays, and lotions, can help prevent mosquito attacks in Africa. Consequently, it has not always worked, as mosquitos continue to be among the most dangerous animals found in Africa today.

6. Buffalo

Cape or African Buffalo bull enjoying a mud bath, Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa

The buffalo can be very dangerous, especially when running in a herd.

©Photography Phor Phun/

There are several things that are dangerous about the buffalo. First, you will notice the sharp horns around its head. The African buffalo has the potential for killing instantly. For instance, there was an incident where a buffalo attacked an experienced tour guide, killing him. Buffalo is capable of harming or killing people with either the use of their horns or their hooves.

Cape buffaloes allegedly kill approximately 200 people per year. Thus, they have earned the nickname “Black Death”. Buffaloes move in herds, and that makes them more dangerous than ever. Therefore, they are one of the most dangerous animals found in Africa.

5. Black Rhinoceros

The Big Five

The horns of a Black


, along with a fiery temper, make it potentially lethal.

©Maggy Meyer/

The Black Rhinoceros is a very territorial animal. Ultimately, if you were to cross paths with one, there is a good chance it might charge. Black rhinos allegedly kill approximately 2-3 people per year. Additionally, they are more aggressive than white rhinos.

While white rhinos are generally calm, black rhinos will react aggressively toward anything that comes near them, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF also highlights that black rhinos may retreat after the first attack to set up another attack. They remain one of the most dangerous animals in Africa.

4. African Elephant

Bull elephant, loxodonta africana, in the grasslands of Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Front view.

The elephant is one of the world’s most dangerous animals, and African


are no different.

©Jane Rix/

Some people have a misconception about elephants and may mistake them as friendly animals. However, the African elephant is one of the most deadly animals on the African continent. The biggest thing that separates the elephant from the rest of the dangerous animals is its massive size.

Adult male African elephants can grow as large as three meters high. Additionally, they have sharp tusks that can cut through anything, even crocodile skin. But the one thing that makes them even more dangerous than any animal is their amazing memory. Significantly, elephants always remember someone who wronged them.

Elephant memory is very strong. Furthermore, there was an incident in India where an elephant killed a woman who allegedly had instigated a member of its herd. The same elephant then went to the woman’s funeral and trampled on her grave in anger. Conversely, there was also another story of an elephant that traveled 12 hours to mourn a human who saved its life when it was young.

Elephants allegedly kill 500 people every year. Moreover, the WWF has stated that elephants have killed 200 people over a 7-year span. Elephants are definitely one of the most dangerous animals found in Africa today.

3. Lion

lion roaring

The Lion is incredibly dangerous and will do anything to protect their territory.


The lion is the strongest big cat in Africa. Additionally, it has almost no predators. There are not many animals that can stand up to lions. Likewise, lions have been responsible for human deaths in the past. However, the deadliest lion attacks in human history have often taken place in Africa.

One example of deadly lion attacks over the last couple of decades was the man-eaters of Njombe. Allegedly, this was a pack of lions that terrorized a region from 1932-1947. These lions killed approximately 1,500 people. Unfortunately, it was the largest alleged human fatalities caused by lions in human history. There was also previously a pair of lions called the “Tsavo Man-Eaters” that killed many construction workers in 1898 in Kenya.

Lions injured or killed 871 people in Tanzania in a 15-year period from 1990 to 2005, according to the National Science Foundation. The NSF highlighted how lion encounters with Tanzanian residents increased due to the increase in population. Therefore, the chances for attacks grew.

There are only about 24,000 lions left in Africa. Yet, they remain one of the most dangerous animals in Africa and one no one should antagonize.

2. Nile Crocodile

The Nile crocodile is one of the most dangerous predators on the planet.

©StuPorts/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

If there is a body of water in Africa, there is likely to be a Nile crocodile somewhere nearby. Amazingly, they are so dangerous that even lions fear them. Nile crocodiles are probably the second most dangerous crocodile on Earth, slightly behind the saltwater crocodile. Ultimately, they are opportunistic hunters and will ambush anything and anyone that stands in their way.

Nile crocodiles kill up to 200 people per year, according to estimates from syndicates throughout the region. Amazingly, Nile crocodiles can grow as large as 20 feet long. One of the most recognizable Nile crocodiles in history was Gustave, a man-eater who allegedly ate over 200 people. At the turn of the century, Gustave was anywhere between 60-100 years old, making him one of the oldest Crocs on record. He was over 20 feet long.

Nile crocodiles are incredibly fast swimmers, as they can swim up to 22 mph. Additionally, their bite force is five times the strength of a lion. Nile crocodiles are truly one of the most lethal and dangerous animals found in Africa today.

1. Hippopotamus

A territorial Hippo bull makes a huge gaping yawn as a warning to other males to keep out of his territory. They will also make this threat gesture to humans on the riverbank.

Hippos are one of the most territorial and deadliest animals in Africa.

©Nick Greaves/

The Hippopotamus earns the title of the most dangerous animal in Africa. Simply put, compare it to other animals. Lions and crocodiles kill humans for prey. Also, elephants kill humans when angered. Hippos kill people just because they want to. Yes, hippos are incredibly territorial. It ultimately feeds their anger and temper.

Hippo attacks are common as they kill 500 people per year, according to various reports across the world. Ultimately, they may look nice but are irritable animals. One specific incident happened in 1996 when a hippo attacked two river tour guides while also injuring another. Unfortunately, the hippo laid 38 bites on the surviving tour guide. It was an example of a hippo acting incredibly aggressively because humans were in its territory.

Hippos fear no animal, not even a crocodile. Amazingly, hippos have often antagonized crocodiles during their shared time in the water. Crocodiles often cannot do anything because hippos outweigh them, so any attack would be futile. Therefore, hippos are the only animals on Earth, aside from elephants, that do not fear crocodiles and swim near them often. That, along with their territorial ways, makes them the most dangerous animal in Africa.

Summary of Most Dangerous Animals Found in Africa

2.Nile Crocodile
4.African Elephant
5.Black Rhinoceros
6.Cape Buffalo
8.Black Mamba
9.Deathstalker Scorpion
10.Great White Shark
11.Puff Adder
12.Spotted Hyena
13.Tsetse Fly

The photo featured at the top of this post is © OlgaPetrusha/

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About the Author

Rob Hayek is a writer at A-Z Animals where his primary focus is on animals, sports, places, and events. Rob has been writing and researching about animals, sports, places, and events for over 10 years and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Cal State University Fullerton, which he earned in 2009. A resident of California, Rob enjoys surfing and also owns a sports group which allows people from the local community to come together to play sports recreationally.

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