'Beast' Hippo Attacks Man, Bites Large Chunk of Flesh From His Shoulder

A hippo bit off a large chunk of a man's shoulder in a violent attack, according to a report.

The incident occurred in a village in Muranga County, which is in the central region of Kenya, north of the capital city of Nairobi, local news outlet Citizen Digital reported.

The victim, 50-year-old David Njoroge, was about to eat dinner at home when the hippo attacked him.

Common hippos are the third-largest living land mammal, after elephants and white rhinos. They weigh between 1.5 and 5 tons and grow between 6 and 16.5 feet in length, according to the African Wildlife Foundation.

These large, herbivorous mammals, which spend much of their lives in water, are one of the most-loved animals in Africa. But hippos can be aggressive and are considered one of sub-Saharan Africa's most dangerous animals.

The number of people killed by hippos every year is unknown, but it is estimated to range from 500 to 3,000 fatalities per year, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. This makes them the world's deadliest mammal to humans.

The probability of being killed by a hippo in an attack ranges from around 29 percent to 87 percent, according to a study published in the journal Oxford Medical Case Reports. This compares with a death rate of around 5 percent for a grizzly bear attack, 22 percent for a crocodile attack and 75 percent for a lion attack.

A charging hippo
A stock image shows a charging hippo. In Kenya, a 50-year-old man was reportedly attacked by a hippo that bit off part of his shoulder. iStock

Hippos have large mouths that are capable of opening 150 degrees and contain very sharp lower canine teeth. These animals also have an extremely powerful bite force that is far stronger than even a lion's.

"The hippopotamus, with his ferocious jaw force, unique mouth size and sharp teeth, can easily bisect a human body in a single bite," the authors of the Oxford study wrote.

The chance of injuries increases as humans encroach on the natural habitat of these animals. Hippos usually attack only if they feel threatened—for example, when someone stands between them and the water they spend their time in. Mothers may also attack to fend off perceived threats to their young.

Just before the attack in Muranga County, Njoroge heard noises outside of his home and people calling for help. "I stepped out of my house when I heard the neighbors screaming, and that's when I came face to face with the beast," he told Citizen Digital.

"I had thought that a thief had probably been cornered stealing farm produce from nearby farms. I had no idea it was a hippo running around," he said.

The hippo then charged him and bit off a large chunk of his right shoulder. Njoroge managed to play dead and was eventually rescued by neighbors.

He was rushed to a hospital, where a doctor said that his condition was stable and that he is expected to undergo "a major surgery," according to Citizen Digital.