Positioned on the western coast of Africa along the Indian Ocean, and neighbored by Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Uganda, Kenya is blessed with a landscape that delivers the safari experience of your dreams. Which means, naturally, that there are some real killers in their animal population.
Though it doesn’t claim as much fame as the other Big Five (lions, elephant, leopard, and rhinos), the cape buffalo consistently ranks as one of Africa’s most deadly animals. In fact, it’s one of the few animals that will stalk—and kill—humans if they’ve been wounded.
They gore more than 200 people each year, earning them the nickname “the black death” or “the widow-maker.” Big game hunters, often attracted to this animal’s aura of danger and its impressive horns, should be particularly cautious. Or at least acknowledge that the possibility of the cape buffalo suddenly becoming the hunter is indeed a very real possibility.
Forget the initial perception of this animal. They may appear docile, slow, even sluggish. And while they are herbivores, they have been to known to reek real havoc on humans in Kenya.
Its massive canines and incisors are tailor-made for fighting, and its ability to swim—and stay mostly submerged—in Kenya’s many bodies of inland water make them a threat both on the land and in the rivers and lakes. They’re also very aggressive, particularly territorial bulls and females protecting their calves. Heed caution.
Like its sister feline the leopard, the lion ranks as one of the Big Five animals. But, unlike its stealthy relative, you’re considerably more likely to encounter lions while on safari. Their habits are well-known—and the subject of at least one Disney movie. But while they typically don’t hunt humans, they have been known to attack humans.
Witness the Tsavo Maneasters Case, when 28 railway workers on the Kenya-Uganda Railway were taken by lions over a period of nine months as they built the bridge crossing the Tsavo River back in 1898. Times may have changed since then, but the lion is just as much a threat as they were more than a century ago.
The Puff Adder
Kenya boasts more than its fair share of deadly reptiles, but the puff adder carries the…frightening distinction of causing the most snake bite deaths in the country. The venom includes cytotoxin, which destroys the body’s tissues as necrosis sets in around the point of impact.
Best case if you don’t get treatment right away? Amputation of the infected area. If the area can be amputated, that is. And they typically sun themselves on trails. So tread carefully.
Like the hippo, the Nile crocodile is a threat on both dry land and in waters both shallow and deep. They can grow up to 16 feet long, and weigh more than 900 pounds. Daunting and powerful, these apex predators can take down just about any animal in the country, so conquering a human is a modest feat by comparison.
Their typical mode of attack? Ambush, sometimes lying in wait for as many as a full week for the right moment, with a bite that delivers an impossible grip. And if the bite doesn’t kill ya, the next move is to pull you into the water and drown you.