A Python Swallowed an Indonesian Palm Oil Farmer Whole

Experts say deforestation forced the snake to seek alternative food sources.

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Mar 30 2017, 2:33pm

Image via footage from Viral Press

A 25-five-year-old Indonesian palm oil farmer has been found deceased inside the stomach of a 23-foot-long python, the Jakarta Post reports. His body was identified by neighbors who found the snake and recognized the outline of their friend's gumboots in its engorged stomach. The reptile was reportedly reclining just feet from its victim's home.

The farmer, reportedly named Akbar, apparently went missing from the remote Salubiro village on the island of Sulawesi last week after leaving his house to harvest palm oil nearby, and neighbors reportedly heard cries of pain on the night of his disappearance. When they spotted the python on Wednesday, they cut open its belly with a knife to reveal the farmer's body completely intact.

It's unlikely that Akbar was eaten alive. Rather, he was probably strangled by the snake first, before being swallowed whole. The footage of his corpse being removed from the python's belly can be viewed on YouTube, if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Pythons don't typically eat humans, and according to agriculture lecturer Rahmansyah from Hasanuddin University in Makassar, habitat loss caused by Indonesia's lucrative palm oil industry may be at least partly responsible for the snake's unusual decision to go after human prey.

"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," Rahmansyah told the Jakarta Post.

Junaedi, the secretary of Salubiro, told the Post that the last time a similarly sized python was found in the village was in the 1990s, back when the palm oil industry first arrived in the area. Other palm oil harvesters are now reportedly staying home instead of visiting plantations out of fear of similar incidents.

Indonesia is the world's largest producer of palm oil, which is widely exported throughout Asia. Threats to endangered rainforest species have induced its government to issue a five-year moratorium on new palm oil plantation permits.

Follow Kat Gillespie on Twitter.

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