When asked to name the most deadly animal on the planet, most people would say great white shark or lion. But the creature responsible for the most death and suffering worldwide is the mosquito.
The pesky blood-sucking insect doesn’t get the respect it deserves as a cold-blooded killer, because it quietly passes on deadly diseases like malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever. It won’t rip you to shreds like a grizzly bear or tiger. But it is no less deadly.
Mosquito-borne illnesses kill more than 1 million people worldwide every year, according to the United Nations and other sources.
But it’s a passive killer. The mosquito doesn’t mean to kill its host. It just happens.
That’s why people find deaths by megafauna much more interesting. The deaths are swift, violent and often unpredictable. It’s like the stuff of childhood nightmares – the wolf that suddenly attacks or the sea creature from the deep rising up.
For the same reason, people are fascinated with serial killers. You can be going about your daily life when – Bam! – a stranger grabs you and you’re a goner. Scary stuff.
Why no website focused on animal attacks?
As I’ve previously mentioned, a website devoted to deadly animal attacks probably would be well read. If there is one, I can’t find it.
One blog on the subject – Animal Attack Files – is no longer active. It ran from July 1997 through June 2008. No reason was given on the site for why posts stopped after an 11-year run.
The site covered people killed and injured by animal attacks. It aggregated news stories, photos and weblinks.
I’d prefer a website that also included a map showing where attacks occurred and a scoreboard (for lack of a better word) to tally animal attacks.
I’d like to know year to year how many deaths are attributed to mountain lions, bears, sharks, and other beasts.
Six notable recent fatal animal attacks:
Family dog kills 4-year-old girl near Astoria, Oregon (Feb. 28, 2010)
Orca kills trainer during show at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla. (Feb. 24, 2010)
Sharks kill a kite-boarder in the ocean near Stuart, Fla. (Feb. 3, 2010)
Siberian tiger kills its 66-year-old owner in its pen in Canada’s Ontario province (Jan. 10, 2010)
A U.S. woman and her infant daughter are killed by an elephant during a guided walk in the East African country of Kenya (Jan. 6, 2010)
Two coyotes kill a promising young musician hiking alone in a national park in eastern Canada (Oct. 28, 2009)
Photos: Anopheles albimanus mosquito (top); and a polar bear at the Berlin Zoo attacks a woman who climbed into its habitat in April 2009 (bottom)