How Many People Die from Hippos? 2024 Numbers & Stats

Hippos may look cute, but they are actually very vicious animals, and many people die from their attacks every year. 

We will tell you the exact number of people hippos kill every year in this short piece, so keep reading. After that, we’ll give you a few additional numbers and statistics that will further surprise you. 

How Many People Die from Hippos?

The hippopotamus species, found only in select corners of Africa, kills around 500 people every year. Still, that number is estimated to reach as high as 3,000

Facts and Stats on the Hippopotamus Species

Now that you know how deadly the “river horse” can be let’s look at some other statistics and facts about it. They will likely prove even more astonishing and scary. 

1. The hippopotamus is the world’s deadliest land mammal. 

(National Geographic, 2021)

Even if we consider the estimate of 500 hippo-related deaths per year, it’s safe to call it the world’s deadliest land mammal. Only humans are deadlier to other humans, and hippos are almost twice as lethal as lions. 

(National Geographic, 2021)

Death by a hippo is terrible, and these high numbers in one spot happened due to the swelling of the lake and an influx of fired farmworkers who tried to make a living from fishing. 

Some estimates state that as many as 40 attacks from deadly hippos happened on Lake Naivasha that year. 

3. Hippos are herbivores but do occasionally eat meat. 

(Live Science, 2018)

Despite being classified as herbivores and eating around 80 lbs of grass every night, they are known to occasionally feed on carcasses of various animals, including other hippos. 

And no, even though a hippopotamus does kill humans, it won’t eat them. This is because they don’t see people as a food source and only kill to defend their territory. 

4. Hippos are only territorial in water during the day, but they also defend the immediate vicinity. 

(San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library, 2021, AZ Animals, 2022)

It’s usually the males who strive to control the water territory for mating rights, and they control the land some 55 to 109 yards from a riverbed and 273 to 547 yards from a lake. So, it’s not uncommon for a hippo attack to happen when a person gets near a body of water. 

5. Hippos often attack people on boats. 

(AZ Animals, 2022)

Most commonly, hippos kill humans when they are on their boats. The animals are typically submerged, so it’s hard to notice them from the surface. The hippo will usually launch itself and capsize the boat. 

In most cases, Hippos kill people by crushing or biting them. But on water, it’s not uncommon for a person to drown as well. 

6. A hippo can reach an average of 20 mph when running.

(AZ Animals, 2022)

So, when a hippopotamus attacks a man, they can’t hope to outrun the animal. Humans typically run at only 6-8 mph, with sprinters reaching 15 mph, which is still a lot slower than the average hippo. 

This overly aggressive creature can weigh up to 9,920 pounds and is one of the laziest animals on the planet. However, it can still run much faster than you think should be possible for a creature of that size. That being said, they can only reach that speed in short bursts.

7. Hippos are deadlier than sharks, as these animals kill only five people a year, on average.

(Florida Museum, 2021)

We already mentioned that hippos have around 500 death cases per year, which is 100 times more than shark deaths. 

Deaths by a shark are, in fact, so rare that you are more likely to drown or die from a selfie than be killed by a shark. 

8. Hippo’s bite is strong enough to snap a crocodile in half. 

(NCBI, 2020, AZ Animals, 2021)

A hippopotamus’s bite force is 12,600 kPA — or slightly above 1,800 psi. For comparison, a lion’s bite is only 4,500 kPa. This makes the hippo’s bite one of the strongest in the animal world, just behind crocodiles. 

However, it should also be mentioned that the number comes from female hippos, as the males are too aggressive to be tested safely. So, it’s very likely that their bite force is even stronger.

9. The skin of a hippo is 2 inches thick. 

(Wild Animals Central, 2021)

Despite popular belief, this makes their skin incredibly strong, but it doesn’t make it bulletproof.

No animal’s skin is bulletproof, though there are many animals that wouldn’t be stopped by a single bullet (unless you have a perfect aim). Of course, it also depends on the type of gun, but there are always guns that are strong enough.

10. The best way to avoid dying from a hippo attack is to give them enough space. 

(Discover Wildlife)

Prevention is the key here, so don’t go into rivers that have large numbers of hippos. If you must, keep your distance.

On land, avoid large thickets where a hippo might be hiding. In the end, listen for oxpecker calls, as these are usually a sign that a hippo is near. 

11. Hippos can’t swim; they bounce in the water. 

(AZ Animals, 2022) 

Believe it or not, hippos don’t really swim. They are too large and inadequately built to swim effectively, so they usually bounce off the bottom. Most of the time, though, they stay in the shallows. 


So, there you have it. We’ve given you the total number of hippo attacks per year and many other interesting stats and facts that clearly explain how dangerous and deadly this oversized cute animal is. 

The next time you’re near a body of water in Africa, make sure you’re paying attention to your surroundings, so you don’t get capsized by this monster. 


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