7 Most Dangerous Animals in Nigeria Travelers Should Avoid

dangerous animals in Nigeria

The animals of Africa are no joke. If you’re heading to Nigeria soon, then be prepared to come face-to-face with some of the most fearsome and deadly beasts on the planet. Make sure you research dangerous animals in Nigeria before you go so that you know how to act during a frightful encounter.

Like many other African countries, Nigeria is home to wild beasts that don’t exist on other continents. Some look cute and friendly while others are barely visible to the naked eye. However, that doesn’t mean they’re benign. These creatures can kill humans in an instant.

Of course, most trips to Nigeria are without incident. These animals aren’t setting out to cause you harm. Therefore, if you know how to act and are willing to behave responsibly, then you should be fine. Just make sure to keep an eye out for the seven most dangerous animals in Nigeria listed below.


Photo by Envato Elements

They look cute from afar but get up close and you’re in a world of trouble when it comes to hippos. Across Africa, they’re estimated to kill 500 humans a year. This is no wonder when you consider that they weigh up to 1800 kg (4000 lbs) and can run 48 kph (30 mph). If that hits you, you don’t stand a chance.

Hippos are mostly herbivores so they won’t kill you for food. This means that if you don’t threaten them, you should be okay. Just keep well away. They’re only out to protect themselves and their loved ones. It’s when you start intimidating and invading the personal space of hippos that they become a problem.

Unfortunately, there are only around 100 hippos left in Nigeria. They’ve been forced closer to extinction because of hunting and a rapidly declining habitat. The good news for you is that a deadly hippo encounter is quite unlikely. However, if you take a safari into their protected areas, they could get aggressive. Make sure you’re with an experienced ranger that you trust.


Rhino in the wild
Photo by Envato Elements

You just have to look at a rhino to see the kind of damage they’re capable of. With that huge horn and body built like a tank, it’s natural to be fearful of these beasts. However, you might be surprised to learn that they’re relatively gentle. Unlike hippos who attack more frequently, rhinos barely carry out more than two attacks a year on humans.

Rhinos exist on a strict vegetarian diet so they don’t have any interest in killing you. Their thick skin and sharp horns are more often used to defend themselves from the attacks of other predators, like lions. If you’re not attempting to disturb or injure a rhino, then they have no reason to attack you.

Like many other beautiful animals in Nigeria, rhinos are close to extinction. Small groups have been spotted but you’re unlikely to just randomly happen upon one. If you do, keep your distance and leave them in peace.


Mountain Lion
Photo by Envato Elements

Lions are perhaps the most iconic animal of Africa, regularly represented as symbols of countries like Kenya. In Nigeria, you don’t have to be so concerned. That’s because the majority of lions live in East Africa while Nigeria is a West African country. However, don’t think that their threat is completely gone. A small number of West African lions remain and you don’t want to get on the wrong side of them.

In general, lions don’t view humans as prey. However, if they see you as a threat or mistake you for something else, then they could pounce. Their sheer strength means that you wouldn’t stand a chance in a fight. Even if you could, you’ll likely come up against several, since lions are the only cats that hunt in groups.

Spotting a lion in Nigeria is no easy task. While they used to be a common sight in the country, there are estimated to be no more than 50 today. The chances of you spotting one in the wild are almost zero. On the off-chance that it does happen, though, just slowly leave the area and retreat to safety.

Puff Adders

Puff adder
Photo by Envato Elements

Venomous snakes in Europe are common but in most cases, can’t do that much damage. The same can’t be said for snakes in Africa. If you get bitten here, then your life could be on the line. There are many species to worry about but we’d like to draw your attention to the puff adder. Whatever you do, don’t let it bite you.

The puff adder’s venom has been described as “potently cytotoxic”. This means that it causes severe agony, tissue damage, and blistering. Left untreated, you can easily be killed from a single bite of a puff adder. Luckily, the marvel that is modern science means that antivenom medicine exists. Just make sure you get some sooner rather than later. The quicker you take it, the more effective it will be.

Deaths from puff adder bites are, fortunately, quite rare. However, they do still occur. Make sure you know how to identify an adder and don’t ever disturb it. They hide well, so keep your eyes peels to avoid any accidents.


Underwater crocodile
Photo by Envato Elements

Unlike rhinos and lions, there are huge numbers of crocodiles in Nigeria. For this reason, they’re probably something worth worrying about. Nigeria is home to West African crocodiles and Nile crocodiles, both of which have been known to carry out fatal attacks on humans. In fact, they kill up to 1000 people a year.

The Nile crocodile is more aggressive than the West African crocodile but when you’re face-to-face with one, you won’t have time to work out which it is. In either case, don’t go anywhere near it. These beasts will kill you in cold blood if they get the opportunity. Don’t swim in a river that may have crocs in it and definitely don’t swim at night. That’s when they’re the least visible and most active. Don’t annoy or tease the croc and don’t feed it. That’ll just make it want to come even closer to you.


Wild buffalo
Photo by Envato Elements

The African buffalo is an unpredictable and untamable beast, which is why they remain as wild animals and have never been domesticated. They may not look particularly aggressive but you should try to give them a wide berth as much as possible. They don’t exist in all parts of Nigeria but you will find them in the Cross River state, near the border with Cameroon.

When threatened, these intelligent animals work together to circle a human. They’ll then charge and trample you or stick their sharp horns into you. This attack can be fatal and kills an estimated 200 people a year. Once in this situation, it’s extremely hard to get out. You certainly can’t hope to outrun a buffalo charging at 55 kph (35 mph). Your only hope would be to curl up and protect yourself as best you can, hoping that they leave you alone soon. Avoid the situation in the first place by steering well clear of any buffalo herds that you come across.


Photo by Unsplash

A list of dangerous animals in Nigeria wouldn’t be complete without the mosquito. It may not be as large or intimidating as many of the other animals listed above but it’s just as deadly. Responsible for an estimated one million deaths a year, mosquitos are often regarded as the deadliest animal on Earth.

In many places around the world, they’re nothing to worry about. They’ll give you little more than an annoyingly itchy bite. However, in Nigeria, you have to be more careful. They can easily carry malaria which is deadly if not treated quickly. Be sure to learn the symptoms of malaria, which are similar to that of having the flu or a bad fever.

Any visitor to Nigeria can protect themselves by taking anti-malarial tablets. Also, sleep under a net, keep your skin covered, and use mosquito repellent to keep them away. As long as you’re careful, you should avoid falling to the same fate as millions of others.

What is the most dangerous animal in Nigeria?

The puff adder should be considered the most dangerous animal in Nigeria. This snake causes more deaths across Africa than any other and is also quite hard to spot. That means it’s easy to disturb them so remember to be careful as you step.

Are there lions in Nigeria?

Yes, lions are native to Nigeria and can be found there. Unfortunately, habitat loss means that fewer than 50 lions live in Nigeria today, meaning your chances of encountering one are slim.

Are there cheetahs in Nigeria?

Cheetahs were once widespread across Nigeria but this is no longer the case. Due to hunting and habitat loss, there are currently no cheetahs in the Nigerian wild.

Are there venomous snakes in Nigeria?

There are several species of venomous snakes in Nigeria including adders, vipers, and cobras. Of these, the puff adder is considered the most deadly but you should keep away from them all.


For more than 11 years, Joe has worked as a freelance travel writer. His writing and explorations have brought him to various locations, including the colonial towns of Mexico, the bustling chowks of Mumbai, and the majestic Southern Alps of New Zealand. When he's not crafting his next epic blog post on the top Greek islands or French ski resorts, he can often be found engaging in his top two hobbies of surfing and hiking.

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