The World’s Most Dangerous Animal Probably Isn’t What You Think

Let’s be honest: There are some seriously
terrifying animals waiting out there in the big bad world. But when it comes to outright killing people,
which creatures come out on top? From snakes to bugs to killer crocs, here
are the most dangerous animals in the world. Many humans actually tend to be pretty fond
of elephants, but don’t go thinking for a second that they’re as cuddly as you may think. The truth is, wherever elephants coexist with
humans, there’s bound to be conflict. According to National Geographic, elephants
kill around 500 people every year, and they’re becoming more and more aggressive as more
human beings encroach on their territory. This is a particularly difficult problem because
the rising human population in countries like Namibia means that poor farmers are having
to establish new fields on lands occupied by hungry elephants. Of course, when elephants destroy a farmer’s
field, that farmer is likely to fight back with guns and poison. But elephants are intelligent animals, and
some biologists think they may actually be responding to the killings of herd members
with a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. As a result, adults might be driven to become
more aggressive as a response to the breakdown of their herd structure, and younger elephants
may be learning that aggressive behavior, too. In fact, one researcher has said that elephants
in a region of Kenya are becoming aggressive to the locals but not to tourists, because
they recognize the difference between the humans who regularly hunt them and those who
don’t. People might like to imagine sharks as terrifying,
people-hungry killers, but most shark attacks are just mistakes – usually, a shark that
attacks a human only does so because they think that human is actually another animal. Once that shark realizes the mistake it’s
made, there’s a good chance it’s going to swim away. Crocodiles, on the other hand, don’t really
care what they’re eating, as long as they’re eating. According to Business Insider, crocodiles
kill around a thousand people every year, and they don’t just kill for food, either. Because they’re extremely territorial animals,
there’s a good chance a croc is going to attack you just because you looked at it the wrong
way. Of course, they can also move between land
and water, which means they can easily run up on shore, grab you, and then pull you down
to drown you in the water, if the blood loss doesn’t get you first, that is. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Precise numbers of hippo-related deaths are
difficult to come by. 2,900 a year is a number you hear a lot, for
example, but there doesn’t appear to be much basis for it. According to some sources, the number is probably
closer to 500. What is certain, however, is that hippos are
dangerous, and they do kill people. Sometimes, one hippo can kill large numbers
of people in a single incident. For example, in 2014 a hippo attacked a boat
near Niger’scapital of Niamey and killed one adult and 12 children between the ages of
12 and 13. The victims drowned when the enraged hippo
flipped their boat over. Today, National Geographic maintains that
the hippo is the most dangerous mammal in Africa. Think of it this way: in some cases, they’ve
been known to attack and kill crocodiles. That’s what you’re dealing with, here. Although some deadly animals can seem cuddly
on the outside, others have no problem showing off just how dangerous they can be. Take scorpions, for example. They’re basically just just flat, ugly spiders
with stingers. Who’s going to mess with that? But not all scorpions are especially dangerous. In the U.S., the worst kind is the Arizona
bark scorpion, which lives mostly in Arizona and its adjoining states. This particular species stings people all
the time and is potentially deadly, but there’s an effective antivenom available, and in Arizona,
no one has died from a bark scorpion sting since 1948. Other scorpions, however, are a whole lot
worse. According to Medscape, scorpions are responsible
for around 3,250 deaths annually, including around a thousand people a year in Mexico
alone. The world’s deadliest scorpions are the fat-tailed
ones from the genus Androctonus. And the worst of those? That’ll be the Tunisian fat-tailed scorpion,
which lives in North Africa, is nearly four inches long, and is responsible for 90 percent
of scorpion-related fatalities in the region. Incidentally, it also made the Guinness Book
of World Records as the most venomous scorpion in the world. It is not your friend. When you think about killer insects, you probably
just imagine swarms of bugs flying around in some rural area of a third world country. But Americans have got their own problems
with creepy crawlies – and assassin bugs in particular, which are thought to be responsible
for around 10,000 deaths a year. If you live in the southern half of the United
States, you’ve definitely seen assassin bugs before. They’re also called triatomine bugs, kissing
bugs, or cone-nosed blood suckers. According to the CDC, you can find them under
porches, in wood piles, in dog houses and chicken coops, and even under cement. Assassin bugs feed on blood, and they carry
a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, which can only enter a human body if the assassin
bug happens to be defecating while it’s biting you. If you rub or scratch the wound and get fecal
matter inside of it, or if you get it on your hands and rub your eyes, then the parasite
will have a door into your body. Once inside, it travels through the bloodstream
to your heart, where it multiplies, eventually causing something known as Chagas disease. This is a nasty little infection that leads
to heart disease and congestive cardiac failure. But here’s the really terrifying part: the
parasite can linger in your body for years, and you may have no symptoms until you get
to the advanced stages of the disease, when it’s too late to seek treatment. In other words, Chagas disease can be cured,
but only before you spot its symptoms. The world may be full of dangerous animals,
but at least there’s one kind you can always count on to be your friend. Right? “It’s not a monster, it’s just a doggy!” Okay, at first glance things don’t actually
look that bad. In the United States, 30 to 50 people die
every year from dog bites. And while that may be a fairly significant
number, it’s not anywhere near as bad as what you see with some of the other deadly animals
out there. Once you get outside the U.S., however, things
become a lot worse. A significant number of deaths from dog bites
occur outside the United States, because it’s not typically the bite itself that kills the
person – it’s the disease transmitted by the bite. Fortunately, in the western world, we’ve mostly
eliminated dog rabies, but in underdeveloped nations, rabies kills around 59,000 people
every year. According to The New York Times, 99 percent
of people killed by the disease got it from a dog. Maybe it’s not such a great idea to put off
Fido’s rabies shot after all, huh? Tapeworms and roundworms are collectively
responsible for about 5,000 deaths per year. According to the CDC, the larval cysts of
the tapeworm cause a parasitic tissue infection called cysticercosis. Sometimes, they can cause neurocysticercosis,
which is what happens when the larval cysts implant themselves in your brain – and that
can happen quite easily if you swallow the eggs found in the feces of an infected human. Now, cysticercosis kills roughly 700 people
a year, but ascariasis – a disease caused by roundworms — is much, much worse, claiming
at least 4,500 lives a year. It’s easier to get than cysticercosis, too,
because the eggs of the roundworm can be found in any kind of dirt – especially if humans
have been defecating nearby. That’s probably why ascariasis is uncommon
in the U.S, since the miracle of indoor plumbing has pretty much eliminated the need for humans
to do that. Anyway, ascariasis can cause protein-energy
malnutrition and eventually death. In fact, it’s thought that ascariasis-related
deaths may be underreported because intestinal infections are often not counted as the cause
of malnutrition deaths. So the true number might be much, much higher. Anyone could make a fair guess that snakes
would be counted as one of the world’s deadliest animals – and they’d be right, too. “Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?” According to The Telegraph, serpents cause
close to 90,000 deaths every single year. Around 11,000 of these deaths happen in India,
which has 52 species of venomous snakes alone. Of course, if it makes you feel any better,
only four of them are what Toxicology Reports calls “venomous snakes of concern.” Africa is also something of a hotbed for snake-related
deaths. The continent suffers around 20,000 every
year, many of them perpetrated by the black mamba, which kills roughly 100 percent of
the people it bites, unless those people happen to be very, very close to a vial of antivenom. But what’s really frightening about all this
is that those statistics are probably completely wrong, because snakebite deaths that happen
in rural parts of underdeveloped nations often go unreported. So no matter how deadly you think snakes are
– well, there’s a good chance they’re so much worse. One thing you might have noticed by now is
that Africa is home to a lot of dangerous animals. But it’s not over yet, folks. Say hello to the tsetse fly, a tiny little
critter that also happens to transmit one of the deadliest diseases in the world. According to Access to Medicines, Human African
trypanosomiasis is the parasitic disease spread by this particular biting bug. Commonly called sleeping sickness, the disease
threatens 60 to 70 million people who live in sub-Saharan Africa. And don’t let the benign-sounding name fool
you, either. “Sleeping sickness” is a serious illness that
very quickly progresses to something I cannot pronounce and coma, and almost always results in death. Untreated, the disease has a near-100 percent
fatality rate, and like many other killers that strike in underdeveloped countries, the
true death statistics are probably underreported – and may be anywhere from 50,000 to 500,000
people a year. Okay, this one probably isn’t going to come
as much surprise. Look around you right now and there’s a good
chance you’ll find yourself staring at the world’s second most dangerous animal. According to the United Nations Office on
Drugs and Crime, human beings are responsible for 437,000 homicides every year. If you’re being optimistic, that’s just a
little bit behind the larger estimate for sleeping sickness deaths, and if you want
to be pessimistic, it’s quite considerably ahead of the lower estimate. Of course, that number doesn’t actually factor
in things like car accidents and negligent stupidity, so the true number is actually
much, much higher. Regardless of whether human beings rank second
or third on the list of the world’s most dangerous animals, however, it’s still pretty terrible
that we have more to fear from each other than we do from creatures that are literally
designed to kill things. Westerners have been more or less spared from
the true evils of this particular animal, though they certainly haven’t been spared
from irritation. Yes, the world’s most dangerous animal is
the mosquito – that tiny, blood-sucking crasher of summer barbecues, that thing that seems
to like you more than it likes anyone else. But these little bugs are far, far more than
just a nuisance. By some estimates, the mosquito has killed
half of all the humans who’ve ever lived on planet Earth. According to Smithsonian, the annual death
toll from the diseases transmitted by mosquitoes is roughly 725,000, and around 600,000 of
those deaths are from malaria alone. And another 200 million people who have malaria
become incapacitated by it, meaning malaria isn’t just a killer of humans. It’s also a killer of productivity and quality
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