Saturday, January 22, 2011

Elephants, hippos, snakes and other threats

In my recent series on animal attacks, I’ve written about death by shark, tiger, lion, crocodile and bear.
But there are many other wild animal threats to humans.
Elephants kill about 500 people a year, according to the National Geographic. (About 400 people per year are killed by elephants in India, UPI reports. And 50 to 100 people a year are killed by elephants in Sri Lanka, the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo says. The number of deaths by elephant in Africa is not readily available online.)
Hippos are ill-tempered brutes that are responsible for more than 200 deaths a year, according to various articles online (such as this one). However, these articles do not back up their figures with any official documents.
Various online reports seem to be copying the same statistics, but none of them back up their claims with government reports or other proof.
Websites claim that jellyfish stings kill over 100 people a year, bee stings kill over 400 people annually and scorpions kill over 5,000 people a year.
Venomous snakes kill 20,000 to 94,000 people a year, according a November 2008 report in PLoS Medicine at the Public Library of Science.
Better documented is the world’s deadliest animal – the mosquito. Disease-carrying mosquitoes cause about 1 million deaths a year, according to the World Health Organization. They transmit malaria, yellow fever, Dengue fever, encephalitis and the West Nile virus.
Nearly 800,000 people died from malaria worldwide in 2009, the WHO reported. Yellow fever causes 30,000 deaths a year, the group says.
Another insect, the tsetse fly, kills 50,000 people a year in Africa, by transmitting diseases like human sleeping sickness, according to the African Union Commission.

Photo: A gamekeeper at the Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda runs for his life from an angry 3-ton hippo in August 2009. See story in the U.K.’s Daily Mail with incredible photos by Charles Hotman.

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