Man's Body Cut from 'Bulging' Stomach of 13ft Crocodile Days after Attack

A crocodile that ate an Indonesian man whole has been cut open, revealing the victim's body days later.

Construction worker Yeniman Bernard from Teluk Bintuni, in the West Papua province of Indonesia, was sitting on a boat after swimming in the bay when he was dragged underwater and eaten alive by the 13-foot crocodile on June 28.

Angry locals hunted the crocodile over the next few days, eventually finding one creature with a particularly bloated stomach.

fat croc
Stock image of a large saltwater crocodile. Papua local Yeniman Bernard was eaten by a saltwater crocodile. iStock / Getty Images Plus

Lukas Resihol Limbong, head of the Bintuni Bay Police, said: "After being caught, the crocodile was taken ashore. We suspected the crocodile ate the man because its stomach was bulging."

The volunteer search party captured the crocodile, slit open its stomach, and discovered a decomposing human corpse. According to officers on the scene, the body had mostly been digested.

Limbong added: "We confirm that the victim inside the crocodile is the person we are looking for. The victim's body was not intact."

A skull and some bones that were found inside the croc's stomach were taken to a hospital to confirm that they were human, before being returned to Bernard's family.

Crocodiles eating humans whole happens semi-regularly in areas where they are commonly found. In June 2022, a similar incident occurred elsewhere in Indonesia, with a crocodile being cut open to recover the body of its human prey. This problem also exists in Africa: recently Tanzanian villagers were told to stop collecting water at a local river due to six people being eaten by a Nile crocodile, and in Burundi a single crocodile is believed to have eaten over 300 people.

The species responsible wasn't specified, however, it was likely a saltwater crocodile, as the region where it attacked Bernard was an ocean bay. Saltwater crocodiles are native to coastal estuarine waters and marshlands across Southeast Asia and Oceania, ranging from East India to the east coast of Australia, and can grow up to 20 foot long.

They have increasingly varied diets as they mature, increasing from only smaller animals to fish, amphibians, crustaceans, mollusks, seabirds, snakes and lizards, larger mammals including kangaroos and orangutans, and, occasionally, even humans. They hunt by lunging suddenly at their prey and dragging it under the water.

The frequency of saltwater crocodile attacks on humans is hard to estimate, as often deaths aren't reported as such if the body isn't found. However, current estimates put the number of saltwater crocodile attacks between 2010 and 2020 as 1,350, of which 668 were fatal.

Limbong said: "We have warned villagers in the [Teluk Bintuni] area to beware of crocodiles as they will attack and kill them."