The World's Most Fearsome Man-Eaters

From the safety of our SUVs and skyscrapers, it's easy to forget that man is nowhere near the top of the food chain. A slew of animals make it their business to prey on humans.



    Man-eaters: carnivorous animals that have developed a taste for human flesh. And you'll find them in all sizes, from the tiny to the tremendous, with fur, feathers and scales.

    Green Anaconda

    Deceivingly fast and unwittingly strong, some snakes can even swallow an entire human whole -- such as the African rock python and the infamous green anaconda (pictured). Luckily for us, these babies are non-venomous. Not much of a silver lining, I know.

    Great White Shark

    Great white sharks made celebrity status with the best selling novel Jaws by Peter Benchley and the subsequent blockbuster film by Steven Spielberg -- both of which depicted the great white shark as a "ferocious man eater." But despite a few rare exceptions, it has been concluded that feeding is not a reason sharks attack humans; as stated on, "Humans are not on the menu. In fact, humans don't provide enough high-fat meat for sharks, which need a lot of energy to power their large, muscular bodies"
    Terry Goss


    Another fearsome predator with an appetite for flesh and travels is packs is the grisly omnivorous piranha. In his 1914 book Through the Brazilian Wilderness, Teddy Roosevelt famously described South American guides showing him a pack of famished piranhas reducing a juicy cow to bones in less than 60 seconds. Talk about a gruesome death.


    Large cats, with their awesome mix of brutal strength, cunning dexterity, and awesome speed are some of the most prolific human killers in the animal kingdom -- the tiger being the worst offender. They're an arrogant bunch, with most attacks taking place in broad daylight.


    Lions didn't become king of the jungle for nothing. Bolder and even more aggressive than tigers, these feline killers will come to your village and literally hunt you. Usually a last ditch resort when these fearsome man-eaters are truly starving, some -- like the notorious Tsavo lions -- will pretty much hunt humans whenever they feel like it. In your average year, lions will maim and kill about 700 people.


    Trips to the zoo and numerous features showing trained "domesticated" chimpanzees have given swaths of people the wrong idea -- that chimps are cute, friendly, human loving creatures. Because as good as they are at mimicking our friendly demeanors, they're just as likely -- especially in the wild -- to exhibit the worst of human nature, partaking in such activities as rape, assault, murder and infanticide. In Africa -- where their habitat is under attack from deforestation -- hungry chimps are notorious for stealing babies and small children for food. Not so friendly after all.

    Brown Bear

    Brown bears, on the other hand, despite their scary demeanor, are actually quite shy and cautious. They rarely attack humans unless threatened. In certain cases, because of disease or extreme hunger, they can become quite aggressive. Obviously, given their size and strength, these mini outbursts can be devastating if humans are involved. In conclusion, stay away at all costs.


    Leopards are fairly aggressive when it comes to hunting for humans. These spotted man-eaters are known to infiltrate villages and even break down doors in their search for fresh homo sapien flesh.
    Roberto Demicheli

    Komodo Dragon

    It's apt that the only lizard on the list isn't called a lizard -- it's called a dragon. The Komodo Dragon, a native beast of Indonesia, will not hesitate when it comes to human dining.
    Forrest Croce

    Spotted Hyena

    Actual hyena attacks are rare relative to their man-eating counterparts, but according to the SGDRN (Sociedade para a Gestão e Desenvolvimento da Reserva do Niassa Moçambique), attacks on humans are likely to be vastly underreported.
    Gallias M.

    Tiger Shark

    Of sharks, the tiger shark is regarded as one of the most dangerous. They'll often hang around shallow water around river estuaries and harbors increasing the likelihood of human encounters.
    Dr. James P. McVey, NOAA Sea Grant Program

    Sloth Bear

    In some areas of India and Burma, sloth bears are actually more feared than tigers given their unpredictable and highly volatile temperament.

    Bull Shark

    Bull sharks are common worldwide, mostly in warm, shallow waters and are notorious for their unpredictable and often aggressive behavior.


    Wolverine's have a reputation for brutal ferocity and unassuming strength. They're known for killing prey many times its size -- humans included.
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


    Bigger and meaner than dogs, wolves have been emboldened by frequent close contact with humans making such attacks more common.
    Marlonneke Willemsen


    Jeremy Wade, host of the Discovery Channel program "River Monsters," holds the congo tiger fish he captured for Season 2 of the show. Several species of fish are lumped under the same name, usually characterized by their protruding teeth and fierce predatory behavior. 
    Animal Planet/Discovery

    Man eating man

    Man is himself a man-eater of course. Cannibalism is commonly a ritualistic practice, but the practice pops up in times of extreme duress like famine and war.
    Hans Staden
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