Reports of pythons eating humans are exceedingly rare, but when a 25-year-old Indonesian man named Akbar disappeared from Salubir village, villagers became concerned. Shockingly, it now seems that Akbar had been swallowed whole by a 23-foot-python.
The Washington Post reported that villagers on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi discovered a misshapen python and began slicing open the massive carcass. Sure enough, they discovered the body of the missing man.
A video posted online shows bystanders pointing flashlights and yelping at the first discovery of the bottom of one boot, then a pair of legs.
Junaedi is the secretary of Salubiro village in West Sulawesi province.
"It seems he was attacked from behind because we found a wound on his back."
According to Junaedi, the villagers started their search for Akbar last Monday night when he failed to return from a Sunday palm-oil harvest. Then on Wednesday, the search party discovered scattered palm oil fruit, a picking tool, and one boot. Not far away they found the 23-foot-long reticulated python.
Suspecting that the python may have swallowed the man, they chased it, killed it, then cut it open. Various images and videos have emerged from the tragic scene, showing the lifeless body of Akbar covered in what appears to be the snake's digestive juices.
Warning: The following photos contain graphic imagery.
Man cut out of python after searchers recognised gumboots: Father of two Akbar Salubiro, 25… https://t.co/DRMjoqEteC
— okolie marvellous (@marvellous997) March 30, 2017
Emily Taylor is a professor of biological sciences at California Polytechnic State University and an officer in the non-profit Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. She believes the python in the video is almost certainly a female and is definitely stronger than a person.
Taylor said that pythons kill their prey by constriction, then ingest their prey whole, and even though it would be very difficult for a python to swallow an adult human male, it is certainly not impossible. While python attacks on humans are very rare, stories about giant snakes attacking and eating humans do occur from time to time.
Time magazine reported that the 23-foot-long python's body was found by police lying motionless in a ditch. Akbar's body was found inside the distended snake.
Village secretary Salubiro Junaidi explained that Akbar's boots were "clearly visible" in the snake's stomach after it was captured, and after the residents further cut open the snake's belly, they found Akbar inside, "lifeless."
"These days we are supposed to harvest palm oil. But most of the farmers, especially those whose farms are near Akbar's, are still shocked, afraid that more pythons are still out there."
Reticulated pythons are the longest snakes in the world and capable of reaching lengths of more than 32 feet. Interestingly, they're nonvenomous, killing their prey by constriction.
National Geographic reported that the deceased man found inside the python is 25-year-old Akbar Salubiro, a harvester who worked on a palm oil plantation on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
Remind me not to go on vacation there!>>>"They didn't find him (Akbar), but the villagers saw an unmoving python... https://t.co/rnT9Y2U7eE
— Benno Wallé (@bennowalle) March 30, 2017
The reticulated python involved in this tragedy can weigh more than 100 pounds; they're similar to Burmese pythons in that they kill their prey before consuming it, which means that it's highly unlikely that Salubri was eaten alive.
A study conducted in 2015 discovered that pythons and other constricting snakes, such as anacondas and boas, don't suffocate their victims. Instead, they use a method that ends life more quickly – they kill their prey by cutting off their blood flow.
Scott Boback is a vertebrate ecologist at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In 2015, Scott spoke to National Geographic about how this type of attack kills its victims.
"The heart literally doesn't have enough strength to push against the pressure. When well executed, a python's powerful squeeze could end blood flow to the heart within seconds."
Pythons have successfully consumed some rather large animals in the past, like hyenas, crocodiles, and even other snakes. In fact, in 2005 a python in Florida miscalculated and tried to consume an entire alligator, resulting in the python bursting.
Indonesian Man Akbar Found Dead Inside Giant Python: https://t.co/N1AIwWft4c
— Maharana Kumbha (@Maharana_Kumbha) March 30, 2017
Rahmansyah is a lecturer at Hasanuddin University in Makassar who believes that this python's unusual behavior might have been caused by deforestation carried out by the palm oil industry. Palm oil is very much in demand because it's used in many common household items, and the popularity of this industry has resulted in the loss of habitats for animals such as Sumatran tigers and orangutans.
"Because the habitat is destroyed, the snake's natural food sources are also affected. Thus, the snake went out to the palm oil plantation to seek prey."
It's not difficult to understand why palm oil harvesters in Sulawesi have become very nervous and are reportedly staying home after this shocking incident.
[Featured Image by julialine/Shutterstock]