Children living in poverty face many risks, including a lack of education, nutrition and opportunities. But especially for those living in rural areas, animals can pose a significant risk to children’s development, health and survival. Families in extreme poverty often lack the safeguards that keep many of us safe from dangerous animals, such as immediate access to health care and sanitation.
Can you guess what the most dangerous animal in the world is? Here’s a hint: It’s small, and it kills 14 times more people than the second most dangerous animal.
10) Lion: 250 deaths per year
The majestic African lion haunts our imagination, but deaths caused by lions are actually relatively rare, compared to the top killers.
9) Elephant: 500 deaths per year
Although herbivores, elephants will attack when aggressed or when their territory is infringed upon by humans.
9) Hippopotamus: 500 deaths per year (tied with the elephant)
Hippos are famously territorial and will attack those trying to cross rivers in their domain.
8) Crocodile: 1,000 deaths per year
Crocodiles have one of the strongest bites on earth.
7) Ascaris roundworms: Tapeworm, roundworm and flatworm: 14,500 deaths per year total
Tapeworms and roundworms are intestinal parasites that can be spread through food and water. Flatworms are spread through freshwater snails and cause 10,000 deaths per year alone.
6) Tsetse fly: 10,000 deaths per year
The tsetse fly spreads sleeping sickness which is responsible for the deaths of 10,000 people a year, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa.
5) Assassin bugs: 12,000 deaths per year
The aptly named assassin bug spreads the potentially fatal Chagas Disease, which is most common in Latin America.
4) Freshwater snails: 20,000 deaths per year
As surprising as it may be, freshwater snails rank because they are hosts to deadly parasites–particularly parasitic flatworms known as flukes.
3) Dog: 30,000 deaths per year
Most of these deaths are caused by feral dogs and rabies. Many of them occur in India, where there are many stray dogs.
2) Snake: 100,000 deaths per year
Many of these deaths occur in South Asia and Africa and are especially common when immediate access to health care isn’t available.
1) Mosquito: 1,000,000 deaths per year
By far, the biggest killer of humans is the tiny mosquito. They carry various diseases, including dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis—and malaria. Malaria accounts for at least 600,000 of these deaths each year. Tragically, the majority of these deaths are of children under the age of five.
But these deaths are preventable. With community education, medical treatment and bed nets, the number of deaths can be drastically reduced.
Want to fight the deadliest animal in the world with just $20? Give the gift of a mosquito net, and help protect vulnerable children from mosquito-borne diseases.
Note: While humans are responsible for more deaths worldwide than any animal other than the mosquito, for the purposes of this article we focused on creatures from the animal kingdom.
*Updated: January 26, 2023