An Indonesian woman has been eaten alive by a huge python after venturing into the jungle to collect rubber.
Horrified locals managed to catch the 22ft-long snake and cut it open – inside they found the undigested remains of the 54-year-old grandmother.
Jahrah, who like many Indonesians goes by just one name, had walked into the jungle alone in Jambi province, on the island of Sumatra, but did not return home.
Her family became worried and villagers sent search parties out into the forest.
Two days after her disappearance, they came across the huge snake, which had an enlarged stomach, resting in a clearing.
Video footage showed local men spearing the giant snake with a long stick and bashing it on its head.
They then cut open its stomach with knives and machetes, revealing the remains of the woman.
There is speculation that the clearing of forest for palm oil cultivation in countries such as Indonesia is leading to greater contact between pythons and humans.
The chief of the local village, named Anto, said the woman would have been snatched by the snake’s jaws and then slowly suffocated to death.
“The victim did not come home after saying goodbye to her family to go to the garden collecting rubber from trees on Friday. Her family then reported her missing to the local authorities, and a search has been carried out since then.
“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.”
He said locals were scared because they suspected other snakes, equally large, were living in the surrounding forest.
The chief claimed that one of the snakes that had been spotted was around 27ft long. Two goats have been killed recently by the snake, he added. Locals had tried to catch it but were intimidated by its size, he said.
The woman’s body was largely intact when the snake was sliced open because it had not had long to start digesting its meal.
Reticulated pythons are the world’s longest snakes. Found across South and South-east Asia, they can grow up to 25ft long.
Once they reach maturity they prey on wild boar, deer, domestic dogs and monkeys.
An ambush predator, they grab onto their prey with dozens of sharp curved teeth, then squeeze it to death before swallowing it whole.
It is one of the few species of snake that occasionally preys on humans.
In 2018, a woman who went to check on her vegetable garden on the island of Sulawesi in central Indonesia was killed and swallowed by a 23ft-long python.
As in the case in Sumatra, locals caught the snake, cut it open and discovered her body inside. Her sandals, machete and torch were found nearby.
The year before, a 25-year-old man was swallowed whole by a python, also on Sulawesi. The man, named Akbar, was harvesting palm oil in a plantation when he was taken by the snake.
When police carried out a search of the area, they found no trace of the farmer, but they did come across a large python in a drainage ditch.
“They grew suspicious that maybe the snake had Abkar. When they cut it open, Akbar was inside the snake,” said Mashura, a spokesperson for police in West Sulawesi province.
A local official, Salubiro Junaidi, said that villagers had heard screaming coming from the palm plantation the night before the farmer disappeared. “Residents cut open the belly of the snake and found Akbar lifeless,” he said.
Reticulated pythons are not only deadly on land. They are also excellent swimmers and have colonised many islands within their native range.
Pythons are able to swallow prey up to one quarter of their length and up to their own weight.
They have been known to attack and eat crocodiles and, on one documented occasion, a sun bear, a species found in Southeast Asia.
Sometimes they take on more than they can handle. In 2005, a 13ft-long non-native Burmese python tried to swallow a 6ft-long alligator in the Florida Everglades but the snake’s stomach ruptured. Both animals died in the encounter.