Marauding elephants, aggressive sea lions, snap-happy crocodiles… As animal attacks on humans reach frightening levels, scientists are beginning to understand exactly what the beasts are thinking. And it’s not good. Will Storr reports.
It’s happening everywhere.
Authorities in America and Canada are alarmed at the increase in attacks on humans by mountain lions, cougars, foxes and wolves. Romania and Colombia have seen a rise in bear maulings.
In Mexico, in just the past few months, there’s been a spate of deadly shark attacks with The LA Times reporting that, ‘the worldwide rate in recent years is double the average of the previous 50’. America and Sierra Leone have witnessed assaults and killings by chimps who, according to New Scientist, ‘almost never attack people’. In Uganda, they have started killing children by biting off their limbs then disembowelling them.
There has been a surge in wolf attacks in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia and France. In Australia, there has been a run of dingo killings, and crocodile violence is up. In Beijing, injuries from cats and dogs have swelled by 34 per cent, year-on-year.
In America, the number of humans killed by pet dogs has increased sharply since 2000. In Australia, dog attacks are up 20 per cent. In Britain, nearly 4,000 people needed hospital treatment for dog bites in 2007, a figure that has doubled in the past four years.
In Bombay, petrified residents are being slaughtered in ever-increasing numbers by leopards, leading J. C. Daniel, a leopard specialist, to comment, ‘We have to study why the animal is coming out. It never came out before.’
In Edinburgh, in June, there was a string of bizarre fox attacks – a pensioner was among the victims. >> The Telegraph (UK)
I, for one, welcome our new animal overlords. How would you feel if roles were reversed?