Dangerous animals in Tanzania

It is estimated that more than 200 Tanzanians are killed each year by lions, crocodiles, elephants, hippos, and snakes, and that the numbers could be double that amount, with lions thought to kill at least 70 of those.

Man-eating lions (adapted from Wikipedia)

Animal researcher Craig Packer has documented that between 1990 and 2004, lions attacked 815 people in Tanzania, killing 563.

American and Tanzanian scientists report that man-eating behavior in rural areas of Tanzania increased greatly from 1990 to 2005. At least 563 villagers were attacked and many eaten over this period—a number far exceeding the more famed “Tsavo” incidents of a century earlier. The incidents occurred nearSelous National Park in Rufiji District and in Lindi Province near the Mozambican border. While the expansion of villagers into bush country is one concern, the authors argue that conservation policy must mitigate the danger because, in this case, conservation contributes directly to human deaths. Cases in Lindi have been documented where lions seize humans from the center of substantial villages.

A man-eating lion was killed by game scouts in Southern Tanzania in April 2004. It is believed to have killed and eaten at least 35 people in a series of incidents covering several villages in the Rufiji Delta coastal region. Dr Rolf D. Baldus, the GTZ wildlife programme coordinator, commented that it was likely that the lion preyed on humans because it had a large abscess underneath a molar which was cracked in several places. He further commented that “This lion probably experienced a lot of pain, particularly when it was chewing.” GTZ is the German development cooperation agency and has been working with the Tanzanian government on wildlife conservation for nearly two decades. As in other cases this lion was large, lacked a mane, and had a tooth problem.

The “All-Africa” record of man-eating generally is considered to be not Tsavo, but the lesser-known incidents in the late 1930s through the late 1940s in what was then Tanganyika (now Tanzania). George Rushby, game warden and professional hunter, eventually dispatched the pride, which over three generations is thought to have killed and eaten 1,500 to 2,000 in what is now Njombe district

Man eating on the increase in African lions

An increase in man-eating behaviour among lions could endanger wildlife as African villagers suffer increased losses, says author Robert R. Frump, just back from a darting expedition in Tanzania. ‘Each year, more than 200 Tanzanians are killed by lions, elephants, crocodiles and hippos,’ Mr. Frump said. ‘Until conservationists and environmentalists understand the consequences of this terrible toll, wildlife will be seen more as a negative than a positive by African villagers and so will be endangered in the long run.’

More dangerous animals in Tanzania

  • Although hippos are not carnivorous, and therefore not hunters, they aggressively protect their territory and often attack boats or people who encroach on their space. Despite their harmless appearance, hippos kill nearly 100 people per year in Tanzania, according to Mary Fitzpatrick, author of “Lonely Planet Guide: Tanzania.”
  • The black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) is the largest venomous snake in Tanzania, averaging 8 feet in length. Because of its aggression, speed and the toxicity of its venom–which has a 100 percent fatality rate without proper antivenin–the black mamba is one of the most feared animals in Africa. In Tanzania, the black mamba is second only to the puff adder in causing human fatalities, according to Johan Marais, author of “Snake Versus Man: A Guide to Dangerous and Common Harmless Snakes of Southern Africa.
  • Most frequently found in dry grasslands and open savanna, the common puff adder (Bitis arietans) is a major hazard for those living in Tanzania. Because of their natural aggression, toxic venom and high numbers, the common puff adder is responsible for more deaths than any other snake in the country. Most fatal bites occur when individuals accidentally step on a resting adder, since they are incredibly difficult to see when lying still.
  • By far the most dangerous animal in Tanzania is the mosquito, which causes 100,000 to 125,000 deaths per year