Are Elephants Dangerous to Humans? (Things to Know)

Disclaimer: The information presented below is for general informational & educational purposes only. Always consult with animal professionals in case of specific concerns.

Elephants are big. Their muscular trunk and sharp tusks make them look furious. But are elephants dangerous?

The answer is yes because they may attack humans when they feel threatened. The attacks are for self-defense because these animals are not predators.

We will discuss how dangerous this species is right here and how to survive when encountering it in the wild. Let’s find out.

Are Elephants Dangerous?

are elephants dangerous

The answer is yes. As the largest and strongest mammals on land, elephants may be deadly to humans, even if they don’t pose active threats.

These animals are responsible for more human deaths than any other big land species. They get involved in around 500 fatalities every year.

Elephants rarely attack people or other creatures unless provoked. Self-defense or preserving one’s calves are the most common causes of their attacks.

They are big

One of the most apparent reasons these creatures look dangerous is their size.

The animals may grow to 13 feet and weigh more than 15,000 pounds. When they feel frightened, they may easily crush, kick, or smash someone.

Their strength is another concern. It always remains on the list of the strongest species across the world.

Although the elephant’s legs are powerful enough to support their full weight, the trunk is also strong and can even work for more purposes.

The elephant uses its trunk to feed, smell, drink, communicate with its fellows, and bathe.

Because the trunk has about 150,000 muscles, it is the most important section of this animal’s body. Thanks to the muscles, the trunk gets stronger and can handle many tasks.

Furthermore, the animal’s trunk may contract and expand as needed. It can also move in various directions.

An elephant can use its trunk to lift up to 780 pounds. Can you imagine how deadly it is when this animal beats you with the trunk?

Elephants are also famous for their sharp and precious tusks. The tusk can weigh 50 to 90 pounds and reach 6 to 8 feet long.

Teeth transformed into those ivory tusks. They are essential weapons for defeating their attackers, including tigers, lions, and even humans.

They are intelligent

Elephants are very intelligent creatures. By listening to people talk, they can be aware of how terrible a situation may be.

These animals can also read your body language and respond in a predictable way in various contexts.

They gather information from their contact with other animals and people outdoors. In Asia and Africa, they’ve even co-evolved with humans.

Unlike the now-extinct mastodons and mammoths, elephants have developed a brilliant strategy to maintain their lifestyle and family structure.

They are unpredictable

As clever, brilliant, lovely, and gorgeous as they are, elephants are always unpredictable.

They can get violent and attack for unknown reasons, making them extremely dangerous to people.

Are Elephants Aggressive?

Elephants are not aggressive by nature. Although they don’t often get angry, they may when they detect threats by their predators.

For example, a female elephant can turn extremely aggressive if its babies are in danger, and a male one shows its anger to display its dominance. They can get angry when they feel sick, harassed, or hurt.

These animals react differently toward threats. They may make a fuss to showcase their dominance.

If you see a male elephant raising its trunk and head, the animal is trying to tell its enemy that it is dangerous. It even looks straight at the enemy.

Some of the defensive actions of these species include swinging the foot, breaking the branches, upsetting trunk movements, etc.

Sometimes they may run to humans to show their dominance and strength, which is sometimes a real charge.

They may stop the mock charges once they reach the threat or continue their charge actually to kill the threat.

It would be best to avoid making this animal feel pain, triggering their charge.

For a female elephant, it’s really important to respect its space and not to put it or its young ones at risk.

Read more: Are Pandas Dangerous to Humans And Other Animals?

Do Elephants Attack Humans?

Elephants can attack people. Whether you’re interacting with a wild or domestic wild elephant, the animal might get furious and injure you badly.

The invasion of human civilization on this animal’s habitat is one of the major reasons for elephant assaults on humans.

What kind of attacks do these creatures make? There are several options, some of which you may guess and others that are unexpected:

With trunk

Elephant is one of the largest animals with big noses. This animal’s trunk, which is a powerful muscle, may effortlessly beat you up. A single strike weighs roughly 400 pounds, making it easy to knock you unconscious.

After attacking, they will use their trunk to throw you a long distance. You can only wish for survival with such attacks.

With feet

These big mammals come with big feet, which weigh about six tons. They can crush you with the whole weight of their feet, kicks, and nudges, causing fatality.

With tusk

Elephants’ tusks, in addition to their feet and trunk, are a dangerous and deadly weapon. The ivory tusks can tear you up if they assume that you are penetrating their area.

Fortunately, elephants are herbivorous and do not eat humans. Human-eating elephants are extremely rare. If such a thing happens, it must be due to protective mother nature.

Elephants are not hunter-gatherers. They only eat vegetation and don’t see humans as their food source.

How To Survive An Elephant Attack?

There are two types of attacks that these animals can make: mock charge and attack charge.

Mock charges

Elephants use these charges to keep a hazard from reaching any farther. It means that the animal makes a mock charge to warn the person that they are in trouble.

This technique is not an attack. It refers to the intention of scaring off the enemy. But what should you do in this case?

If you notice the elephant performing a mock charge, be calm and focus on proving that you are its enemy. You can try speaking softly to it. Besides, do not flap or wave your hands.

If the charge is a fake, you don’t have to panic and run but remember not to invade its area.

If the animal continues to approach, try scaring it by yelling loudly, letting it know that you are not frightened.

Attack charges

Attack charges are actual charges by an elephant, in which it chases the enemy and tramples or even attacks with its trunk or tusks.

The animal’s trunk becomes curled up during this attack, and the ears tend to be pinned back.

This case is an emergency. All you have to do is keep running as fast as possible to find a high spot or a hiding place.

Change directions and follow a zig-zag pattern as you run. Elephants can’t change directions as well or quickly as you can because of their big size.

If you’re going to climb a tree, make sure it’s a huge one. That tree must be big, or the elephant will knock it down at ease.

Furthermore, many of the trees in the wild are thorny. Running is a better use of your strength.

In fact, elephants are quite terrified of bees. You may consider bringing a speaker system with bee noises if you plan ahead.

According to some studies, if you play the sound, they will back down. Even thick-skinned elephants try to avoid getting stung by the bees.

Interesting Facts About Elephants

You will spend hours discovering everything about this species. We have gathered here some interesting information that will surprise you.

Their trunks have a lot of skills.

Their trunks have about 150,000 muscle units and are the most sensitive organ seen in mammals.

These animals use their trunks to grab a peanut, crack it, blow its shells out and eat the seed.

The trunk can hold up to 8 liters of water. It can work as a snorkel to help the animal swim.

Their tusks are teeth.

Tusks are really expanded incisor teeth that develop at the age of two in elephants.

Tusks keep growing throughout their lifetime to assist in eating – such as peeling bark from trees or digging – or guard against predators.

Their skin is thick.

The elephant’s skin can be 2.5 centimeters thick. Their skin’s creases and folds can store up to ten times more water than smooth skin, which cools them down on hot days.

They take daily mud and dirt baths to keep their skin clean and safeguard themselves from heat.

They are sociable

Elephants like to move in herds commanded by a matriarch. Males often live alone or in small communities as adults.

These animals embrace by holding each other with their trunks. They may also use the trunks to assist in lifting a calf over an obstacle or softly raising a baby to its feet.

If an elephant companion gets trapped in the mud, they will try to save it using their trunk.

They communicate with each other through vibrations.

Elephants use different communication methods, such as body language, trumpet calls, touching, and scent.

They can also interact via seismic signals, which are noises that cause ground vibrations. They can feel the vibrations through their feet.

You can learn more about elephant communication from this video:


Here are some frequently asked questions about these mammals. Let’s check to learn more about them.

Are elephants friendly to humans?

These creatures can be friendly to people if they grow up in a human-friendly environment, but they may not be good pets.

They can also be lovely when kept in captivity and enjoy a lot of human interaction.

Compared to those who live in the wild, they are less likely to be violent in such situations.

What do elephants hate?

Chili peppers irritate them. They have a strong aversion to the plants’ heat and will skip crops that have it blended in with the more tasty fruits and veggies.

They, too, dislike bright lighting. When an elephant comes, a set of bright lights that switch on can be enough to keep them away.

Do elephants remember humans?

It isn’t easy to measure these animals’ memory span. They can learn and recall a significant number of commands.

They can also recognize many people and members of their species, despite being away from them for years.

Can elephants jump?

No, these animals can’t jump for some reasons:

  • Their lower legs are weak, and their ankles are not flexible enough.
  • They are too big.
  • Other animals jump to escape from enemies, but with their size and trunks, this species can stay safe from carnivores. So they don’t need to jump.


So, are elephants dangerous? Their feet, tusks, and trunks can hurt humans or even cause fatalities. However, they only attack people to defend themselves.

The best way to avoid their attacks is not to reach their private space. Try to run in a zig-zag pattern or play the bee sound if you unintentionally provoke them.