Despite popular belief, the most dangerous animal in Africa is not the lion or jaguar, but the humble hippo. They are responsible for about 500 deaths per year, five times more than the elephant or lion. While they don’t have the same track record as crocodiles, this does put them on the “mankiller” list. In fact, The Mysterious World ranked hippos as No. 8 on the list of most aggressive animals on the planet.
Their territorial nature and large size make them deadly, and while the babies might be cheek-pinchingly cute, you should never approach a hippo without the proper training and approval. However, it can be difficult to avoid them when you’re scoping out their natural habitat.
One such habitat is the Rift Valley in Kenya, where two people have recently died in separate situations. The first attack was on a Kenyan fisherman, who was mauled to death by a lone hippo. Hours after this tragic incident, a hippo attack claimed a second victim.
The second death occurred when a Chinese tourist was snapping photos of the wildlife resort. The tourist, 66-year-old Chang Ming Chuang, was bitten severely and died from his injuries. Usually, guides are there to protect visitors to the resort, but it is not uncommon for hippos to attack people regardless of their tourist status.
Officials are currently tracking the hippo, and hope to drive it out of the area and prevent further attacks on tourists.
The chairman of the Lake Naivasha Boat Owners Association, David Kilo, says this is not an unusual event. “The hippo that attacked the Chinese was looking for pasture near the hotel,” he said according to the Independent. Rising water levels have forced the hippos to seek out new grazing spots, putting them directly in the paths of visitors.
The fisherman suffered a similar fate, passing away before he could receive medical treatment. He was killed a few miles from the scene of the second incident, and police say that it was a gruesome attack. “His injuries were serious and he died minutes after he was retrieved from the lake,” criminal investigations head Gideon Kibunja said.
These two attacks mark the fifth and sixth deaths caused by hippo attacks near Lake Naivasha this year. While we can only hope no more lives are taken, officials are trying to educate visitors on the importance of remaining cautious. Despite not being as “scary” as sharks or lions, hippos are a hundred times more dangerous.