15 People Who Faced Off Nature’s Deadliest Animals (And Won)

If you've ever swam out a little too far in the ocean and felt that sharp jolt of fear run through your legs at the thought of a shark, well, imagine that jolt wasn't just fear, but rather 300 sharp teeth of a great white who's trying to have you for dinner. The stories in this article are the things that nightmares are made of, and whether the victims of these horrific animal attacks are hikers, surfers, farmers or avid hunters equipped with their guns and knives, it seems no one is absolutely impervious to a predator who has chosen you for his next meal.

Although there are plenty of horrific stories of humans falling prey to dangerous animals, these people miraculously survived their brutal attacks. Each of them facing imminent death and deciding that they were not going to die. Instead, these survivors fought back, escaping within an inch of their lives, and in some cases, even ended up with the pelt of the savage beast mounted on their wall.

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15 Carl Akeley And The Leopard


Carl Akeley, hailed as the King of taxidermy, killed many wild animals in his lifetime. His first near-death encounter occurred on Mount Kenya, when Akeley and his hunting team caught sight of an enormous elephant. Excited at the chance of such a glorious prize for the museum, they tracked the elephant into dangerous territory. The elephant charged Akeley, knocking him to the ground. He was able to stand up just in time to avoid the sharp ivory tusk that the beast was barrelling toward him with. Still, the elephant took the man and and, like a ragdoll, lifted him up and smashed him down into the ground. Akeley suffered from six broken ribs and probably the worst concussion of his life.

The leopard attack happened in Somalia, after a long day of hunting. Akeley returned to his camp to find blood on the ground and signs that a predator was roaming nearby. Before Akeley could reach for his gun, the leopard furiously pounced on him, going for Akeley's throat. He had just enough time to throw his hand up in defence — this was the first step to victory in his deadly battle with the animal. The leopard clenched down on Akeley's hand and kicked at him wildly, cutting the man gruesomely. Akeley couldn't get his hand out of the leopard's mouth so Akeley decided to stuff his hand down the animals throat, punching it from inside. The leopard gagged and released Akeley and that's when he took the leopard and slammed it into the ground, killing it. He remembers that violent day, saying: "I felt no pain, but I certainly never thinking for a moment that I would come out alive. I was rather calm, as a matter of fact, except for a tremendous and wildly pleasant thrill I felt, knowing that I was battling for my life."

14 Tom Stovall And The Rogue Elephant

In the summer of 2013 in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, a group of safari goers got a little more than they bargained for, leaving with a survival story that sounds like something straight out of Spielberg's Jurassic Park . The nightmare began when the group, travelling through the park in an open-sided jeep, came across a lone elephant wandering far from its herd. The group sat in the vehicle with the engine off watching the gigantic beast stomp around, seemingly agitated.

Suddenly, the elephant took a violent interest in the humans and charged mercilessly toward them. They ducked down and somehow managed to avoid the sharp ivory tusks that were stabbing the vehicle over and over. The elephant then moved in front of the car and charged them from a new angle, this time sending the vehicle flying backward at least 45 feet, practically destroying the car, tearing off the roof and totalling the engine. Finally, the elephant got bored with them and ran off, leaving the 7 people to walk away without so much as a scratch. Stovall says that he will never return to Africa.

13 Ben Nyaumbe And The Giant Python

In April of 2009 in the Malindi area of Kenya, a farmer named Ben Nyaumbe stepped into the path of a deadly 13-foot python. The snake attacked the man and somehow managed to drag him up into a nearby tree where it coiled around his body and attempted to swallow him alive. Nyaumbe fought for his life, biting the python's tail. The snake eased its suffocating grip and in that moment, Nyaumbe reached for his cellphone and called for help. But while he was waiting for his rescue to arrive, Nyaumbe was trapped in the tree with a python who wasn't about to give up his next meal. The Kenyan man said that he covered the snakes large head with his T-shirt, making it difficult for the snake to eat him, and fought with it for three hours until help arrived.

The neighbouring farmers and villagers finally showed up, tied a rope around the python and Nyaumbe and pulled them out of the tree. The python was captured and taken to the Malindi snake sanctuary, but this clever snake escaped during its first night it captivity. The python was assumed to be the same one that had been hunting livestock in the village for months, but Nyaumbe was thankful he never encountered it again.

12 Richard Field And The Lioness


In April of 1999, photographic safari guide Richard Field was driving through the bush in northern Botswana with his fiancé and two other clients when he noticed the fresh tracks of a lioness and her cubs. In the open Land Rover, the group followed the animals' tracks, hoping to get a glimpse of the magnificent creatures in the wild. After following the tracks for a while, Field got out of the Land Rover to inspect the tracks further when he looked up and saw the lioness running toward him.

Knowing that he had no time to run back to the vehicle, Field stood up tall and screamed as the lioness came crashing into him, knocking him to the ground. He threw a few punches at the beast, but upon reflection, says that it was "the most useless thing I've done in my entire life, it was completely futile." So he took his hands and wrapped them around the back of his neck while the lion bit into his skull. He believes that protecting the back of his neck is what saved his life. In the Land Rover, someone hopped behind the wheel and drove toward the lion, pushing her back some 30 feet, but she wasn't ready to give up her soon-to-be meal, and even though Field was bleeding profusely from his skull, he stood up and ran toward the vehicle.

After the attack, it took Field months to recover both mentally and physically. For a while, he was angry at the lion for attacking him, but has since come to terms with the mistakes he made on that dreadful day, including following a lioness with her cubs and stepping out of the Land Rover. Today, Field operates a successful safari business called African Family Safaris.

11  Scott Cassell And the Jumbo Flying Squids

It was 1995 when Scott Cassell, a world-class diver and underwater cameraman from Escondido, California, was first drawn to the squid infested waters of La Paz, Mexico. It didn't take this special pps veteran long to realize that, in these dangerous waters, man can easily become prey to the Humboldt squid — also known as the jumbo flying squid — a deep-sea predator that grows to nearly 5 feet in length. Cassell was only in the water for a few minutes when the life-threatening attack began.

A group of large Humboldt squids surrounded Cassell, grabbing at his camera equipment. He tried to push them off him, but one of the squids grabbed him so hard, his shoulder was dislocated. He remembers the pain, but before he could react, two other squids took hold of his legs and began pulling him down deep in the ocean. They pulled him down so quickly that his eardrum burst. He began punching and kicking the squids, trying to get free. He punched one squid who turned and hit Cassell in the wrist, breaking it in 5 places, but they released him and he floated back to the surface. Finally Cassell looked up and saw his boat not far from his reach, and grabbed a hold of it. Beneath his legs, he saw the squids swimming back up toward him, but he was able to pull himself out of the water before they were able to reclaim their meal.

10 Diana Tilden-Davis And The Hippopotamus

The stunning Diana Tilden-Davis, the 1991 Miss South Africa beauty queen and safari owner, was paddling down a narrow Okavango Delta stream in Botswana on a calm Christmas Eve when she encountered a hungry hippopotamus in the water. Her mekorro canoe apparently bumped the hippo, but before Diana had a chance to react, the massive mammal attacked the woman. With it's giant jaw — with the bite force of 8,100 newtons — the hippo bit into the her lower leg, breaking her shin bone immediately. However, before the hippo continued it's attack, it released her leg and receded back into the water. Diana was airlifted to the hospital where her broken leg was set and was treated for an infection.

Diana was lucky to escape the hippopotamus attack with her life when earlier that month a woman named Janice Barlett-Simpson was fatally attacked and killed by one. Janice was on her honeymoon, enjoying a trip down the Okavango Delta in a dug-out canoe (the same river and canoe type that Diana was attacked in) when a hippo came out of the water and bit the woman through the heart. Because of all of the recent hippo attacks, Kruger National Park spokesperson Raymond Travers has come out publically to warn tourists of their danger, stating: "Hippos are very dangerous. More people are killed by hippos than any of the other big five in Africa. They come out of the water at night to go into the bush for food and 90 per cent of the attacks take place as they are walking into their feeding grounds."

9 James Morrow And The Alligator

On September 29, 1997, James Morrow decided to go for a swim in Juniper Creek in Silver Springs, Florida. The area is known to attract kayakers and canoeists from all over the state, and even though Morrow was initially in a canoe, he left his group to take a swim in the river. What Morrow did not know was that the water was also inhabited by a deadly 450 pound alligator.

While Morrow was swimming under the water, he saw the alligator coming toward him, and then the mouth of the beast as it came closing down over his face. The alligator shook him under the water and then released him, in what Morrow believes to have been only a warning attack. He stood in the water with puncture wounds across his throat and neck when his friends arrived in their canoes. They were unsure what had happened to Morrow until the large alligator surfaced in the water and then disappeared back under. They grabbed Morrow out of the water and high-tailed it out of there. Morrow required surgery to repair his trachea.

Morrow was lucky that the alligator only gave him a warning bite since it's not unheard of for an alligator to fatally attack and kill a human. Since 1948, 23 people have been killed by these crocodilians in Florida alone, while across the United States, there have been 227 fatal alligator attacks, that is since they started counting. A few days after Morrow's attack, the alligator was caught and killed — the beast measured over 11-feet long.

8 Kootoo Shaw And The Polar Bear

In September 2003, during an American hunting expedition just outside of Kimmirut, Nunavut, a vicious and hungry polar bear entered the camp. It was late at night and everyone was asleep when the bear started to roam from tent to tent in search of a delicious meal. The beast stuck his nose into the tent of the sleeping 46-year-old Inuit hunting guide Kootoo Shaw. The bear attacked, biting into the man's head. Shaw woke up and began trying to protect himself, but there was little he could do underneath the large polar bear. He remembers the sound of the bear breathing on top of him, stating, "He had his claws under my neck for a while, I could hear his breathing, then he let his claws off and he was still jumping on top me, up and down four times." The bear also bit and scratched at the man's feet, arms, and back, severely injuring Shaw.

The American hunters finally arrived at the tent and proceeded to shoot and kill the monstrous polar bear. Shaw was rushed to the hospital where he required over 300 stitches to reattach his scalp to his head. John Clark, one of the American hunters who witnessed the tail-end of the violence, calls Shaw a hero for surviving such a brutal attack against one of the most dangerous predators in the animal kingdom. Now, Shaw travels across the province bestowing his wisdom of how to survive a polar bear attack:  always have a group of hunters nearby.

7 Leeanne Ericson And The Great White Shark

On a sunny and beautiful day in April 2017, Leeanne Ericson and her family were enjoying a camping trip in San Onofre State Park, when all hell broke loose. Even though the waves were small, and the water was calm, a lot of people were surfing at Church Beach that day. In an exclusive interview with Surfline she says, “I had a weird feeling about going out that day," but once she was in the water, there was no going back — not without a fight. Ericson's first sign that something wasn't right was when a sea lion jumped out of the water. She swam over to her boyfriend Dusty's surfboard and something swimming beneath her hit her foot.

Unaware of the danger that was lurching beneath them, Dusty pushed his girlfriend off of his surfboard so that he could catch a wave, and as soon as he did, Ericson was attacked by the shark. Dusty heard her scream, but before he could look back she had already been pulled under the water. Ericson says she knew she was going to die if she didn't fight the shark, so she took her hands and started to gouge at the shark's eye. She described this sensation to feel like "digging at a cup of jello." The shark released her and Dusty frantically paddled over to Ericson and pulled her from the water. He saw that a huge chunk of her thigh was missing. She was rushed to the emergency room and put in an induced coma.

After multiple surgeries, skin grafts, and with the assistance of a leg brace, Ericson is able to walk again. However, her medical bills from the shark attack have left her and her family is massive debt. She has started a GoFundMe campaign to cover her medical bills. So far, they have raised approximately $130,000 of a $200,000 goal.

6 The Moyer's And The American Black Bear

The American black bear is the most common bear in the world and can be found all across North America, sometimes in alarming numbers. In Pennsylvania alone, there are an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 black bears roaming the wilderness. These medium-sized omnivores can weigh anywhere from 175 to 500 pounds, and are the largest in the fall, right before they undergo their winter hibernation. And it was at this time of year that the Moyer's had their unfortunate encounter with a large black bear.

The morning began as all other mornings, calm and quiet, with the family dog was running around outside. Richard Moyer, a burly 6'6" 300-pound man, was relaxing inside his house when he heard his dog howling. He walked to the door and before anyone could know what was happening, all hell broke loose. He opened the back door for his dog but right behind the husky was an enormous black bear, and to Richard's surprise and horror, both animals ran into the house.

The bear knocked Richard over and he began wrestling with it. Angela came running onto the patio, startling the bear, and it turned and charged at her. Richard remembers standing up and running toward the bear, without hesitation, to stop it from injuring his wife. It was at this point that the bear viciously attacked Richard's head and arms, biting and scratching him severely. The bear suddenly let his head loose and ran off, leaving the Moyer's to live to tell the horrific story.

Richard suffered from deep gashes and scratches along his arms, as well as a multitude of horrendous lacerations on his head. It took nearly 80 stitches and staples to repair his scalp, which the bear had pretty much destroyed, but he was able to make a full and healthy recovery.

5 Fred Desjarlais And The Wolf

Stretching nearly 100,000-square kilometres across northern Saskatchewan, Canada is the Athabasca Basin, the world's leading supply of high-grade uranium. The Basin is speckled with lake mines, and workers live in small towns surrounding this desolate region, but they do not live there alone. Stalking these strange lands are wild packs of grey timber wolves and these wolves have been known to act in peculiar ways around humans. Normally, wolves avoid human contact and maintain a mysterious presence within the wilderness, yet, the timber wolves of Saskatchewan have been filmed stalking people and even co-ordinating attacks upon them.

On New Year's Eve, 2005, 55-year old Fred Desjarlais was jogging home from his job at Key Lake when he was attacked by a wolf that had been hiding in a ditch. The wolf knocked him over and bit him continuously all over his body, and that's when Desjarlais took the wolf by the neck and began wrestling it. Without a weapon, he could not kill the wolf, and had to struggle with the beast until coworkers arrived and scared the beast away.

Although there have been few documented instances of wolves attacking humans in North America, something odd has been happening in the Athabasca Basin. Only ten months after Desjarlais survived his wolf attack, a young man named Kenton Joel Carnegie was killed by a pack of wolves during an evening walk in Points North Landing. In September 2016, another man was attacked by a wolf, this time at Cigar Lake Mine. That same year, Cigar Lake Mine made it forbidden for employees to walk outside of the gated area for fear of the roaming wolf packs.

4 Daniel M'Mburugu And The Leopard

During the summer of 2005, on a hot morning in Kenya, a 73-year-old man named Daniel M'Mburugu was tending to his potato garden when he turned to see an angry looking leopard eyeing him from afar. The leopard snarled at the man and then ran toward him aggressively. Daniel remembers this moment, explaining that it was "then it dawned on [him] that death was staring at [him] in the face." Indeed, the leopard was out to kill the man and within seconds, they collided in a battle that would ultimately end in death of one of them.

The old farmer was carrying a machete when the attack occurred, but he believes he heard a voice from God, telling him to let go of the machete and fight the leopard with his bare hands. The man thrust his hand down the animal's throat, and while his arm was being mangled in the jaws of the beast, Daniel then grabbed hold of the leopard's tongue and violently ripped it out, killing the leopard on the spot. The village has since hailed him as a hero, since most people are not lucky enough — or badass enough — to survive such a brutal animal attack.

3 David Parker And The Cougar


One afternoon in the summer of 2002, a retired maintenance foreman named David Parker decided to take a walk to relieve the cramping for his leg. Parker lived in the small town of Port Alice on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and had walked this path many times. However, during this routine walk, it began to rain and Parker was forced to find shelter under a rock ledge. It was here that everything would violently change for him. He heard a noise and turned around to face a young and ferocious cougar who was ready to attack.

Parker turned to run, but the cougar pounced and was quickly upon him. The animal sunk its claws into his back and bit down wildly onto the top of his head. Parker was scalped in a matter of a few seconds. Parker speaks about this dreadful moment: "I remember thinking, 'well, this is where it all ends,'" but it was then that he remembered the pocket knife on his belt. The cougar continued its deadly attack, biting Parker in the face and permanently damaging his right eye. Parker used the knife to stab the cougar in the neck and soon, the animal released Parker and fell down dead. Parker walked as far as he could toward help and was finally found and rushed to the hospital.

Parker suffered numerous injuries, all of them gruesome, including a broken jaw, cracked cheekbone, and crushed orbital bone. Doctors needed to use 350 staples to repair his skull and over 200 stitches on his face. He has since undergone multiple surgeries to reconstruct his jaw. Cougar attacks are not uncommon along Canada's west coast, however, only 5 people have died from cougar attacks, 4 of which occurred on Vancouver Island.

2 Todd Endris And The Great White Shark

<> on October 18, 2009 in Gansbaai, South Africa.

On August 28, 200,7 Todd Endris and his friends were surfing in Monterey Bay, California, something they did regularly. The dolphins were jumping out of the water and the sun was shining, but what they didn't know is that they were surfing in the close vicinity of a ferocious great white shark. Todd was sitting on his board watching a buddy of his surf when suddenly he was attacked by the great white shark. The shark hit him so hard, Endris described it "like trying to fight a car," but still, he remembers punching the shark with his left fist, trying to hit it's eyes. The shark had both Endris and his surfboard in his massive jaws, so he released the young man and then threw him 15 feet through the air.

The shark swam back around, continuing its attack, and bit into Endris' torso giving him the ghastly 40 inch scar that runs across his body. Finally it took Endris by his leg, and that's what he said he was really afraid, he did not want to lose a limb. While this horrific attack was happening, the school of dolphins were going crazy — jumping and swarming around the surfer. Once the shark released Endris' leg, the dolphins formed a wall, keeping the shark from returning. It was at this moment that his brave friend swam out on his board to rescue him. Together on their surfboards, they caught the next wave into shore, where Endris collapsed from his wounds.

At the hospital, Endris received over 500 stitches and 200 staples to repair the damage the shark inflicted upon him. He truly believes it was a miracle that he survived the attack and were it not for the dolphins and his friends, he would have died that day in the ocean. He warns all surfers and swimmers to never go to the beach alone and to pay close attention to the dolphins because they'll see the shark before you will.

1 Gene Moe And The Kodiak Bear


In Kodiak, Alaska, the Kodiak bears that roam the island are some of the largest carnivores in the world. Weighing up to 1,300 pounds, this ferocious beast is only outdone by its northern neighbour, the Polar Bear. One just has to take a look at the photograph above to imagine the hopelessness one might feel facing off with one of natures most gigantic beasts.

But for Gene Moe, an avid hunter and outdoorsman, he doesn't have to imagine, because in November of 1999, he went head-to-head with a Kodiak brown bear and won. Gene had spent the day hunting on the island, and it was while he was skinning a deer in the forest that the Kodiak bear charged him. The bear came roaring out of the wilderness, attacking him, and with only a knife, he fought the bear. The bear was upon him quickly, with its jaws in his arm, but once they fell onto the ground Gene was able to get up. Without hesitation, Gene slashed the bear's throat and stabbed it in the back, but still, the bear wasn't finished. It got up and moved toward Gene. It was then that Gene prayed for some kind of divine intervention, knowing that he would likely die if he had to fight any longer. He remembers this moment in an interview, stating, "I looked at that bear, and I said, 'Come on, bear, the Lord’s on my side.' He made a jump at me when I swung with my [left] fist. I hit that bear so hard I caught him someplace up in the nose. He fell down, he bounced one time, and his head went into the moss."

Even though he had defeated the bear, Gene was seriously injured and in the middle of nowhere. He had to climb down a mountain with his arm nearly destroyed and his body ripped apart. He nearly didn't make it to the beach down below where his friend was, but when he did, the coast guard was called and Gene was helicopter lifted to the hospital. He spent one month recovering in rehabilitation and received over 500 stitches and 2 skin grafts. The Kodiak bear that Gene killed currently hangs on the wall in his house.

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