Danger and especially dangerous creatures fascinate us. The subject has appeared on more than one occasion on Listverse for this reason. Today’s list is a little different than the others though, in that it examines ten different criteria for what makes an animal deadly. Many more criteria are still out there. Feel free to add other deadly creatures to the comments.
The African Bush Elephant
The king of the jungle is a title that still misleadingly belongs to the elephant, not the lion. Neither of them lives in any jungle in Africa. The African elephant is the largest land animal on Earth and has zero natural predators (man doesn’t count as natural). The ones you’ve seen in zoos are simply not the same as those in the wild. In zoos, elephants know humans are no threat; in the wild, any animal that is not a herbivore is a threat, and elephants are smart enough to know which is which.
In the wild, they are docile to a point. You may stand 100 meters from one and it will pay attention but not attack. Or it may charge you from 500 meters as soon as it sees you. Of course the largest land animal is sure to be also the most powerful, and the elephant is, but it possesses an intelligence that may rival that of some primates. This is not quite so difficult to fathom given that it has an 11-pound brain.
The elephant is the grandest of the Big Five game animals of Africa, and although it is still legal to hunt them, a license to kill just one will cost about $50,000. Hunters are only permitted to kill solitary old bulls or cows that are not long from natural death. The money goes to conservation efforts. Despite their size, they disappear very easily in tall brush and their ears enable them to hear you long before you hear them. Their olfactory sense is extraordinary, enabling them to smell you from 1 mile. And because they are gargantuan, they generally do not run away or hide. Full-grown elephants have zero natural predators. Nothing dares tangle with them. They can run 25 miles an hour for 100 meters, which is faster than Usain Bolt.
They are hyper-aggressive during musth. Musth is the bull elephant’s reproductive hormones, mostly testosterone, all of which rise 60 times higher than normal. This makes the elephant want to mate with any cow it sees, and fight everything else. Musth causes the bull extreme irritation and puts him in a severely foul mood.
It is during musth that bulls have been known to charge through 2 direct hits from a .460 Weatherby Magnum (ordinarily more than sufficient to drop one in its tracks), and trample the hunter to death, flip safari jeeps and gore through chassis; 6-ton bulls have been witnessed flinging black rhinoceros 14 feet over their heads, kicking down 4-foot-thick trees, and snapping anchor chains used to hold them. They are smart enough to angle their tusks into the chain links and pop them loose if they cannot overpower the iron.