Villagers have found the body of a missing Indonesian grandmother inside the belly of a python they killed over the weekend, Indonesian authorities announced.
Jahrah, who only has a first name as customary in Indonesia, went out to collect rubber on Sunday morning in the forest in Jambi Province on Sumatra Island, Indonesia. Her husband began to worry after she failed to return home that night, prompting him to alert other villagers and report her missing.
A search party was organized that night to find the 54-year-old grandmother, but they only found her sandals, headscarf and jacket, and the tools she used to gather rubber at the time.
The search parties only found success a day later, on Monday, when they discovered a 22-foot-long (6.7-meters-long) python with a bulging stomach resting in the woods. Video shared online shows the villagers killing the snake with a spear and bashing its head.
The villagers captured the snake and dissected its body. To their horror, they found Jahrah’s undigested remains intact inside the python’s stomach.
“Her family then reported her missing to the local authorities, and a search has been carried out since then,” Anto, the local village’s chief, said. “The snake was killed by locals, who then dissected its stomach. Everybody was shocked. It turned out that the woman we were looking for was in the snake's stomach.”
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Betara Jambi police chief AKP S Harefa also shared similar details while speaking to local media on Tuesday, CNN Indonesia reported.
“The victim’s body was not destroyed when we found her inside the snake, meaning that she had only been recently swallowed whole,” police said of the python found near the village of Betara in Jambi Province.
Although it was unclear how Jahrah was killed, Anto speculated that she could have been snatched by the python’s jaw and was slowly suffocated to death before swallowing her whole.
While python typically eats rats and other animals, the reptiles often change their diet as they increase in size, according to Mary-Ruth Low, a former conservation and research officer for Mandai Wildlife Group.
Speaking to BBC, Low explained that “once they reach a certain size it's almost like they don't bother with rats anymore because the calories are not worth it.”
“In essence they can go as large as their prey goes,” Low added.
Snake conservationist Nathan Rusli, director of the Indonesia Herpetofauna Foundation, suspects that the type of python that killed Jahra was a reticulated python, the only species of reptile living in Jambi Province that is large enough to swallow a human.
“They are constrictors, so what they do is coil their body around you. They will give you a hug of death. You breathe in and your body gets smaller, it tightens its grip, and you can’t breathe out,” Rusli told The Washington Post. “The top and bottom jaw of a snake is connected by ligaments, it’s quite flexible. They can swallow prey larger than the size of their head.”