We see articles in magazines and newspapers telling terrible stories about dangerous animals killing humans. On planet Earth every year, 200 people are killed by lions, 500 by hippos, 600 by elephants, and 1000 by crocodiles. However, the deadliest creatures on the planet are not lions, hippos, elephants, crocodiles, or even sharks. Those numbers do not apply to most people reading this because those deaths occur in the limited areas of the world where those animals dominate.
Dangerous animals closer to home are scorpions, killing 3,300 people in the Americas. Dogs, including those that are rabies-infected, kill 59,000 humans. Snakes annually kill 138,000 people. So you might guess the top two killers of human beings. The second leading killer of humans is other humans, who take the lives of 400,000 people killed in homicides – not including suicides or war. However, the top killer of humans is mosquitos, with 725,000 people dying from diseases contracted through mosquito bites.
The list of diseases that mosquitos give to humans is massive. Chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever, encephalitis, West Nile fever, and malaria are a partial list. On the other hand, a minimum of care and prevention can avoid those diseases. For example, the mosquito that gives malaria to a human must be a female and one of the members of the Anopheles species. Also, they must have previously sucked blood from a malaria-infected human or animal.
It is easy to overlook the fact that many mosquitos are helpful pollinating insects. Furthermore, humans often create invironments where mosquitos flourish. Fields flooded to grow rice are great places for mosquito breeding. Humans have altered the natural environments, removing life forms that eat mosquitos, including in the larval stage when they live in bodies of still water.
Humans have caused many problems by invading animal habitats and altering the natural system God designed to keep dangerous animals and insects in balance. In many ways, we create our own problems. God did not create animals to hurt humans. Genesis 1:21 tells us that when God created “the moving creature that has life … and every living creature that moves … God saw that it was good.” That was God’s original design, and many of the bad things we experience are due to human ignorance, carelessness, and greed.
— John N. Clayton © 2022
Reference: Data from Skeptical Inquirer March/April 2022, pages 25-26.