Python swallows Indonesian man whole

Villager who went missing when harvesting crops found in belly of seven-metre snake

A giant python at a zoo in Kendal, central Java, Indonesia. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

A giant python at a zoo in Kendal, central Java, Indonesia. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

 

It looks like a horror movie. As a villager slices open the belly of a python, a man’s body emerges, after it had been swallowed whole by the giant snake the day before.

The video of the episode emerged after a search party in a remote Indonesian village of Salubiro, on the island of Sulawesi, glimpsed the shape of shoes in the belly of the python.

After chasing the snake and killing it, they sliced open the python, revealing the body of the villager, whose name was Akbar. A graphic video clip of men cutting up the python to retrieve the villager’s body was posted to YouTube.

Human-animal encounters are common in Indonesia, a tropical archipelago that contains Asia’s largest swathe of rainforest. Environmentalists worry that such encounters will only increase because of the country’s rapid rate of rainforest destruction, which disrupts ecosystems and leads predators to seek new prey.

“As humans push further into wildlife, habitat conflict like this is more likely to occur as both humans and wildlife require space,” said Farwiza Farhan, the chairwoman of Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh, an environmental organisation.

Plantation workers like Akbar are often the most at risk. A 2013 report by Eyes on the Forest, a coalition of environmental organisations on the island of Sumatra, found that over 12 years, 60 per cent of tiger attacks in a region in Riau province had occurred in concessions where developers had recently cleared the forest. The report found that the tiger attacks resulted in 27 human deaths, as well as eight dead tigers.

Marauding elephants also regularly wander into villages in plantations throughout Sumatra, killing workers. Sulawesi, a heavily forested island in eastern Indonesia, is much less developed than Sumatra, but it has undergone a major expansion of palm oil plantations over the last decade, which could make python attacks like the one that occurred this week more likely, experts said.

Wahdi Azmi, the director of wildlife studies on the veterinary faculty of Syiah Kuala University in Aceh province, called the recent attack “a rare case of a python eating a person – but also shows that we need to manage human wildlife interactions better by conserving the habitat.”

Pythons are known to attack humans, and can kill them by suffocation, but this represents a rare case in which a python succeeded in swallowing its human victim. “This is an unfortunate incident,” he added.

According to Junaedi, a village official who briefed the news media on Tuesday, villagers had heard shouting the day of the attack but assumed it was simply someone hunting pigs, because no one had cried for help. The next day, a search party was sent, and the python was found.

New York Times