Safaris, they are the holidays that many people perceive as the ultimate getaway.
But caution should always be exercised on them – after all, they involve being in close proximity to very dangerous animals. So never jump out of the game drive vehicle, because that could trigger an attack.
Here MailOnline Travel plays a game of ‘would you rather?’ with animal deaths just to underscore why wild beasts on the savannah should be treated with the utmost respect. Expert advice comes from Gordon Grice, author of The Book of Deadly Animals, who has spent 15 years researching wildlife.
If you take one thing away from his advice, it might be to stay well clear of hyenas, because they don’t kill quickly, rather, ‘they just start eating’.
Read on to find out which animals would finish you off the quickest.
Lion are often referred to as the king of the cat family and can kill humans with a single bite to the head or neck
They are often referred to as the king of the cat family and are known for their hunting prowess when trying to stalk their prey.
And even though they rarely see humans as food – there have been many instances where lions, which can weigh up to 30 stone (three times the weight of a Great Dane), and run up to speeds of 30mph (almost as fast as a greyhound), have attacked and killed people.
Their tactic for attack is to seize the shoulders of their prey – and they’ve been known to bring down 4,000kg hippos – with their claws and throw them off balance. Then suffocate them by biting the throat or muzzle.
Mr Grice explained that the way they would inflict death is by using their ferocious teeth, which are designed to rip apart raw meat.
He said: ‘They usually kill people from a bite and they normally go for the head or throat. People can survive but if they don’t get medical attention straight away they can end up with a nasty infection.
‘They would attack a human in the same way they would attack their prey in the wild.’
They might be much smaller than lions – they’re about the size of a big dog – but leopards can be just as dangerous as their cat cousins.
The creatures, which only weigh around five stone, are very agile and responsible for deaths in India and Africa.
And despite their size, Mr Grice says they can cause death even quicker than a lion as they work faster and have a sharper bite.
One safari guide told MailOnline Travel that if a leopard wanted to kill you, ‘you’d be dead before you hit the ground’
He said: ‘Leopards kill in a similar way to lions by going for the neck but they are much more efficient, death in this way would be very quick.
‘There are many records going back to pre-historic times of humans being killed by leopards.
‘But they will only attack if they feel their personal space is being invaded or are in need of food.’
One safari guide told MailOnline Travel that if a leopard wanted to kill you, ‘you’d be dead before you hit the ground’.
Hippos appear to be lazy animals who lurk in the water and would be too timid to attack.
But on rare occasions, they can become aggressive when confined to narrow waterways and drying pools – and they can run at 18mph.
And according to Mr Grice, hippo attacks nearly always tend to be fatal due to their enormous teeth, which can grow to two feet in length and leave puncture wounds with the diameter of a beer can.
Hippos can become aggressive when confined to narrow waterways and drying pools – and they can run at 18mph
He said: ‘On the whole they spend most of their time in the water and aren’t interested in people and they aren’t preying animals.
‘But they have a very overdeveloped sense of personal space and can attack if a person stands in the way of their path.
‘They have a very dangerous bite and will go for your middle section so they can bite you clean in half.’
The crocodile has a reputation of being one of the deadliest animals on the African continent, with up to 1,000 people falling victim to the Nile variety that lives there every year.
Few people ever survive a crocodile attack.
They can hurl themselves vertically out of the water and lunge up to 30 feet in one go onto land to attack their prey using their 66 sharp teeth and powerful jaws. And they can grow to 21 feet in length.
Crocodiles can’t chew, so they spin their prey round, and shake it, tearing limbs off in the process.
Mr Grice explains that people are taken by surprise by the deadly creatures.
The Nile crocodile is one of nature’s deadliest animals and usually ambush prey. Surviving an attack by one is very rare
He said: ‘Crocodiles are masters of the ambush as they are camouflaged and usually attack if a person comes down to get water.
‘They will bite at limbs, twist them and then pull people into the water, and then people ultimately drown.
‘People can survive if they can get away but often they can be left with missing hands or arms.’
They may look like small dogs, but the powerful spotted hyena has immense neck muscles and bone-crushing jaws that no human would want to get too close to.
And for Mr Grice, coming a cropper to this animal and being mauled by it would be one of the most horrific ways to die.
He said: ‘The spotted hyena is an incredibly dangerous animal that would cause a lot of suffering if it were to attack.
For animal expert Gordon Grice, falling victim to a hyena would be one of the worst deaths as they will eat people alive
‘There are instances where they have attacked people who are camping out and are asleep.
‘They will maybe bite off a part of your face or another sensitive body part and just start eating you. This would be one of the worst deaths as it would be very long.’
Watching a herd of elephants making their way across the African plain can be an awe-inspiring and majestic sight.
The 350-stone animals are intelligent and complex – which means they have more ways to kill humans than any others.
Mr Grice explained: ‘First of all they have tusks which they can use to stab with and their trunks can also be used to beat people.
The intelligent and complex elephant has a number of ways of killing humans, including beating them with their trumk
‘Then of course they can trample you and there are even instances where they have squashed people to death if they can pin them against a wall.’
But it’s not always clear why elephants attack humans and their victims can be taken completely unaware as they secretly communicate through vibrations in the ground.
He added: ‘Sometimes with elephants it is not always clear to people that they are angry as they communicate through vibrations in the ground.
‘They will attack if they feel their space is being invaded or their food source.
‘There are even stories of humans clearing trees they use for their food and when elephants come looking for the food again, the herds have gone on the rampage through villages.’
Rhinos are loners by nature and are more likely to run away from conflict than face it head on.
But if they are feeling threatened, especially if people come close to a baby, they can be willing to attack.
Once they charge, they’re hard to escape from as they can run at up to 30mph.
Their horns, which can grow up to four feet, are their primary weapon.
Rhinos rarely threaten humans but can become very aggressive if people get in the way of a baby
They often let out a screaming groan before attacking, which can be provoked by human scent alone.
But Mr Grice explained: ‘Rhinos tend not to be that interested in hurting people but if they are feeling threatened with anything they can use their horns to stab and gore people and, like elephants, trample on them.’
Dogs may be a man’s best friend but the jackal is one type of dog humans should not get too close to.
They only pose a small threat to full-grown humans as their size means it would be difficult for them to take an adult person down.
But when moving through their territory, smaller people, especially children, should take extra care to avoid being ambushed. They have been known to circle prey, taking small bites out of them, until their victim falls to the ground, unable to move.
Jackals are more of a threat to smaller people and children. The wild dogs usually work in a pack to rip apart flesh
Mr Grice said: ‘On the whole they are not that dangerous but they can attack humans, especially children as they are a lot smaller.
‘They usually attack in packs and work as a group with each dog taking one part of the body before stretching the victim out.’
The cape buffalo are part of a safari’s ‘big five’ animals and for those used to working with African wildlife are often considered the most dangerous.
They can run at speeds of over 30mph and weigh over 100 stone.
The cape buffalo often lie in wait for their prey and become extremely aggressive if they have been wounded. They have huge reserves of adrenalin, which makes them able to launch attacks even when badly wounded.
Buffalo are considered the most dangerous out of the ‘big five’ safari animals due to their spiked horns, huge weight and large reserves of adrenalin
And if they want to inflict death, they use their horns and huge weight to their advantage.
‘Cape buffalo in Africa can also be very touchy about their personal space, which makes them very dangerous’, explained Mr Grice.
‘They can usually kill with the first strike of their horns and can also trample on people.’
One South African safari guide said that anyone who approached a herd of wild buffalo would need to be ‘peeled off the floor’ afterwards.
WHY YOU SHOULD STILL BOOK THAT SAFARI…
Mr Grice stresses that safari animal attacks on humans are very rare.
And he reiterated that on the whole animals don’t want to come into conflict with humans – it is usually a last resort for them.
He explained: ‘Animals don’t want to come into contact with humans and attacks are very rare. They will only attack if they feel threatened.
‘The mistake some people make is that because they love animals, they think that animals will love them back. But animals see the world through different eyes to us and every animal is different.
‘But it is important, especially for children, to learn about wildlife and how to respect it, especially as the world becomes more electronic.’