Family of tourists killed by an Elephant in Livingstone speaks out

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Maramba River Lodge
Maramba River Lodge

Family members of the two foreign tourists who were trampled to death by an Elephant in Livingstone have denied police findings that the duo had put themselves in danger.

Zambia Police Service Deputy Spokesman Danny Mwale said the Belgian woman and Dutch man were killed after getting too close to an elephant in a bid to take pictures.

The 64-year-old Dutch tourist and his 57-year-old Belgian friend were trampled to death by an elephant in a shocking incident at the Maramba River Lodge in Livingstone.

According to Mr Mwale, both tourists had multiple injuries all over their bodies after being trampled by the elephant.

But family members of the deceased have refuted police version of the incident saying the duo were looking at the giant mammals from a distance when one of the animals suddenly ran out of the herd towards them and trampled them both.

According to reports in the Dutch and Belgian media, the Dutchman died when he tried to rescue his female friend from the attack.

Media in the two countries have identified the deceased as Sabine Goossens, a Belgian woman who had lived in Africa for 16 years, and a Dutch friend of hers named Wim Van Griensven, from the city of Roermond, in the province of Limburg.

The family of Goossens said she was ‘very familiar’ with elephants, according to Dutch newspaper AD.

The Dutchman’s family also told reporters that he had been trying to save the woman, who was some 25 metres from the animal when it charged.
It is unclear from the Dutch media reports if they witnessed the attack.

Goossens had been living in Zambia for sixteen years and was very used to being around wild animals, her family said.

On her Facebook page, she had shared several pictures of the animals and her trips to national parks in Zambia.

The bodies of both tourists were brought to a mortuary in Livingstone.

The Department of Parks and Wildlife have previously warned tourists about the dangers of elephants.

Last week, a security guard was trampled to death by an elephant in Livingstone while he was on his way to work.

The deceased have been identified as Sabine Goossens (right), a Belgian woman who had lived in Africa for 16 years, and a Dutch friend of hers named Wim Van Griensven (left), from the city of Roermond.
The deceased have been identified as Sabine Goossens (right), a Belgian woman who had lived in Africa for 16 years, and a Dutch friend of hers named Wim Van Griensven (left), from the city of Roermond.

84 COMMENTS

    • Whichever way it was an elephant that killed them can it be killed as well? No, can it be sentenced by the court of law? I don’t think so. rest in Peace

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    • This is PF police full of lies they can’t tell simple truth…… Anyway on behalf of the baroste elephants RIP, At least you died in love

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    • It seems nobody takes responsibility for anything in this country. In serious countries where they are trying to promote tourism and you loose tourists in such a manner, people in charge of tourism could have resigned, including the minister. But in our usual casual approach to serious issues here, the response will be it was an accident. Inali chabe ngozi, my foot

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    • THIS IS WHAT WE CALL RES IPSA LOQUITUR. THERE WAS SOME FORM OF NEGLIGENCE TO THE DISEASED PART. WORKERS AT THE LODGE WOULD NOT BE THERE ALWAYS TO CONTROL SUCH OLD PEOPLE. THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT THAT WAS A WILD ANIMAL NOT A COW TO COME CLOSE TO IT AT 25 METERS.

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    • @Loleta I’m not sure which planet you hail from!! Why should the minster of tourism resign because of an elephant!! Should he subject his family and the extended family he supports to poverty because an elephant killed 2 tourists? Get real man!! Anyone going to game parks knows the risks they face especially these two tourists(RIP) who apparently loved elephants. It was a tragic happening.

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    • I see no reason why the Police should twist facts…its clear from the initial statement that someone got too close…you would get a mock charge from a herd of elephant that close especoally if they are being protective of their young in an area rampant of poaching.

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    • If you follow my remarks even in the remotest, I have always maintained that investigations capacity in Zambia is shambolic and only serves to show how lazy our police Are, they rush to simple conclusions. We know these assertions have implications such as why weren’t there any game wardens …. bear minimum this is expected in any place where tourists view wild animals. And if this story is trending in the very places we want to attract tourists from we need to take it seriously as a country instead of foolishly wondering why our tourism doesn’t do so well. Really annoying

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    • If you follow my remarks even in the remotest, I have always maintained that investigations capacity in Zambia is shambolic and only serves to show how lazy our police Are, they rush to simple conclusions. We know these assertions have implications such as why weren’t there any game wardens …. bear minimum this is expected in any place where tourists view wild animals. And if this story is trending in the very places we want to attract tourists from we need to take it seriously as a country instead of f00l!shly wondering why our tourism doesn’t do so well. Really annoying

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    • My view is that, knowing these countries, the deceased had a life policy.so if it is reported that they put themselves in danger, it will be deemed as suicide and the policy will never be paid out to the surviving beneficiary. I watched the video and it clearly shows some levels of negligence on the part of the car occupants.

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    • Loleta LOL in serious countries hahaha.. people should lose their job because an elephant got angry??

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    • @loleta you’re being unfair. Just a few months ago a lion pulled an American tourist out of the vehicle and killed her. This happened in Kruger Park RSA one of the best organized parks in the world.

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    • ..and it depends on who paid them the Zambia Police are so corrupt that they can even make your case file disappear.

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    • About Zambia Police: If you have a complaint against someone, they can even tamper with the evidence and charge you instead. They’re so corrupt

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    • Elephants are wild animals not even seasoned scientists fully understand some of their actions. Please do not blame police for whatever version the truth may not be after all they were not there. May tourists who think wild animals are pets have died like this all aver the world. By the way if eve HH comes to power in a decade or so will he remove all the policemen and women and replace them with UPND cadres, will this solve the problem of police corruption. NOT. Corruption is endemic to Africans, Zed is no exception, HH or no HH

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    • Have respect for your police…why should the falsify for someones stupidity..its not like the tourists were lying on a sunbed getting a tan when the animals attacked…

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  1. We will do well to reserve our comments until full details of events are availed us. Its all too common to see most of social media commentaries falling flat in sight of truth as is the case in this Tragic event involving our late tourists. My advice , Hold your fire! Once again ,May the good Lord keep in perfect peace and comfort the dear ones facing the ordeals of this tragedy.

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  2. The issue here is that the elephant killed them and the government and us Zambian citizens don’t blame the elephant so move on and better be careful next time when approaching our elephants

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  3. The system is failing Zambia. Wnether what the family is saying is true or not. We need a professional wild life service to monitor the movements of animals. There should have been ine at the incident to shoot the Elephant when it charged at the victims. 25 meters away is a long distance for the Elephant go have been stopped from attacking the Tourists. Zambians are find of defending things even when it is very clear that they acted wrongly. Tourism is a major source of income in Zambia and it must be well advertised and protected. You don’t let people travel all the way from Belgium to come and get them killed by your animals.

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    • Madam the lodge in question is built in a park. Therefore, animals always pass there.
      We can not have game scouts everywhere in the park. It is up to game viewers to take precautions.
      An elephant can cover 25 m distance in less than 10 seconds. 25 m was too close. Worse if her camera had flash light, that could have been the cause of agitation.
      While we mourn with the two families, let us draw true lessons and avoid similar incidents in future.

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    • @Victim fimofimo; I don’t agree that shooting the elephants was the solution to that. Avoiding getting too close to the was the best. If you were in charge of wildlife, there would be no more wildlife (maybe utupombofye ne mfuko) left in the park and hence no tourism which you have said is a major source of income for Zambia.
      Caution Signs are all over in the game parks although we choose to ignore them at times. An animal is an animal, never trust it all the time!

      Too bad we have lost three lives in a space of two weeks.

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    • There are warning signs as the lodge is located in the game park.Parks are designated habitats for animals and lodge staff take time to caution any check in about the dangers of wondering about without professional escorts like guides.25meters is too close a distance to be when dealing with wild animals in their natural habitat.

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  4. I do not see any difference in the two stories. 25m is too close for wild elephants. An elephant can run faster that human beings.
    Let us just mourn the too in peace. MTSRIP!

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  5. Maramba river lodge is in the elephant corridor. When did the department of wild life last educate this resort and its staff on how to orient tourists. Does the wildlife department have any safety programmes for lodges in Livingstone? Does it even have any safety programmes for citizens lets say on radio mosi o tunya, a cyclist was killed in cold blood, and they have been some people who have been killed in the past as well

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    • A white man can not take advice from a kaffir. I remember at one of the sub shafts at Mindolo how a white artisan refused to secure his lanyard as they worked on top of the shaft. As he tried to go to the other side he slipped and fell 20m down. That was the end of him.

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  6. It seems nobody takes responsibility for anything in this country. In serious countries where they are trying to promote tourism and you loose tourists in such a manner, people in charge of tourism could have resigned, including the minister. But in our usual casual approach to serious issues here, the response will be it was an accident. Inali chabe ngozi, my foot

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    • @Loleta I’m not sure which planet you hail from!! Why should the minster of tourism resign because of an elephant!! Should he subject his family and the extended family he supports to poverty because an elephant killed 2 tourists? Get real man!! Anyone going to game parks knows the risks they face especially these two tourists(RIP) who apparently loved elephants. It was a tragic happening.

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  7. The elephant is simply being an elephant in the wild. The police have no say whatsoever ,ZAWA officer is more relevant in this matter. M.Y.S.R.I.P, you were in their territory.

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  8. Now, those family members: Did they witness the incident for them to claim that the victims stood at a distance from the giant mammals? Wasn’t there a witness at Maramba river lodge who could have seen everything?

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  9. Bo Kimbo who says when your years are advanced yiou can’t be in love? Age is just but a number. If nobody loves you even at your tender age it’s because…….. yiou know what I am talking about. So for you NO LOVE until you die. You need to see a sangoma from Bauleni Kkekekekek. M T S R I E P

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  10. #Loeta and Caleb; I agree with you; safely issues are a problem in Zambia where death is taken as a norm; the lodge in the park should never allow tourists moving without an armed guard to shoot at any aggressive animal; this elephant should have been killed; as a country we should be apologising and not defending ourselves; the lodge should be fined for lack of providing security to the tourists;

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    • KK i am afraid you lack the understanding of the subject.Have you been to the lodge or lodged in any resort in a park? If so ,you may realise that when checking in you are cautioned and sign an indemnity form.As an ADULT guest on holiday you are free to do what you want.After all that is what holidays are meant for .The mentioned lodge has glaring warning signs.They can on call provide services for professional guides.I am sorry but in this case much as i feel for the family of the deceased,there was negligence on the part of the departed.How much of tax payers`money would be used if there would be a National Parks police officer escorting every guest in every lodge within the park?

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    • A true demonstration of your lack of understanding.. Which tourist wants to be at a lodge with heavily armed men ready to shoot the very thing they have come to see and conserve at will? A lodge in a game park is a lodge in the heart of wildlife territory, you are in their domain and sometimes freakish accidents happen. The two tourists have probably been closer to elephants but this was just a bad day in a thousand ways to die. May their souls rest in eternal peace.

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  11. LT is just inflaming a sad story by their erroneous reporting. I don’t see anything suggesting that the family has “disputed” police findings. What we have are stories in the Belgian and Dutch media which are not referring to the police report at all. For all we know, the foreign reports are speculation issued begore the police report. The police report is more credible as it is more likely based on witness testimony. But the absolute truth lies only with the deceased and the elephant, both of which cannot give it to us. So stop the nonsense about ministers resigning blah blah. As John Mulele @6 has said above, 25m is a very short distance for an elephant it can cover that in a flash even if a human is running away.
    MTSRIEP.

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  12. ELEPHANTS SOMETIMES THEY BECOME WILD WHEN THEY EAT CERTAIN LEAVES WHICH MAKES THEM BE IN A DRUNKEN STATE. WHERE WERE THE GAME RANGERS AND IF THEY WERE KILLED IN THE PREMISES OF THE LODGE THEN THAT IS UNFORTUNATE BECAUSE THE SCOUTS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE CLOSER TO DEFEND THEIR CLIENTS. THEY ARE PAID FROM WHAT TOURISTS PAY. TWO LIVES LOST MEANS A LOT.

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    • An elephant is not like a dog that you can order around. The ranger can only advise you on the dos and don’ts

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  13. And if you do not want to believe me or John Mulele @6, let’s wait for a statement from under5.

    Only under5 “can fix it”. When he comes to power he will ensure that all elephants are tied to a leash (rope) the way he ties his dogs to control them, not this incompetent government which cannot control animals in the wild. Under5 will tell you that in North America all wild bears are tied to ropes in order to protect humans from attack by these vicious animals…

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  14. Any los of any form of life be it human or wildlife is sad.It must be emphasized that wherever tourists visit before they engange in any activities it is better to consult the locals.Wildlife varies in behaviour anywhere so no amount of experience can equip us for any encounter.Thats what makes wildlife viewing an adreneline experience after all.There are in Zambia qualified guides and particularly in a tourist town like Livingstone had the couple sought guidance ,this could have not happened.Any experienced guide in Livingstone would tell you that 25meters or even a hundred meters is too close for elephants this time of year.They are now gathering up in preparation for their migration though some remain.In these gatherings,herds with little ones maybe seen and naturally there will be a…

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  15. Ndeloleshafye.
    We lost a dear Zambian security guard and Police were not as blamed as this nichani kanshi imwe mwebantu.
    We should never discuss death like anything grow up.

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    • Kulibe na grow up, its you to grow up. We loose people including tourists in such a horrible manner, the same tourism we are trying to promote and some of you still want to continue sleeping.

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  16. Unproven stories have it that, you cannot have peace with the wild elephant if you’re fornicating within it’s range. This could be after the act.
    Well I don’t know

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  17. These foreign tourist should know that our wild animals are mainly termed with charms. I was warning a foreign national who wanted me to harvest bee honey without using smoke. But I told him I understood our bees as local much more than him. The temperament of our bees are much higher than their bees because ours are wild bees and not termed like their’s. I warned him that going near without proper protection, the bees were going to defend themselves and hit back because they would want to protect their food since we do not feed them the way they do to their bees.

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  18. Why do people always say negative things about Zambia their own country. Someone says if it was in other countries……Would have resigned. Such things happen anywhere else. In South African Parks tourists have been killed several times. When time arrives that something happens it does not matter whether it’s Zambia, Tanzania or Developed country.

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    • Some body has resigned in such countries. if not, somebody has been held accountable. its a question of leadership and responsibility

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  19. @Phillip; we’re blaming the lodge owners for not providing security; they’re in a game park and they should not at anytime allow any tourist go to look at the elephants and other violet animals without an armed tour guard; no staff should be allowed to walk to work or from work on foot without an armed guard; but Zambia Police can’t be relied upon for correct information;

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  20. I have worked with tourists for so many years.most of them believe that these wild animals ‘re tamed.I once witnessed an American tourist who approached a pride of lions that was resting under the shade in lower Zambezi .he went too close & the chap insisted that they can’t do anything.so tour guides that’s work for you

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  21. It’s seems under pf Zambia police have become experts in everything, fires it’s police response instead of the fire department, now tourists attacked by elephant instead of department of national parks and wild life (formerly zawa) ZP zabuno palibe responds. What do they know about animal behavior? And yet some people complain that someone is denting the image of Zambia abroad, such incomplete incompetent response can put off tourists.

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  22. Not all elephants can be friendly to people, more especially if one has a young one or provoked in any form. The real issue is that NEVER take it for granted when you see elephants to get closer because you will never know its mood! Even wild life scouts are attacked if they become careless. So NEVER put a blame on Zambia Police or Wild life scouts.

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  23. FACT: 1. Elephants never attack without a warning.The flapping of ears and a mock charge is the sign that you better run away.
    2.Elephants run faster than human beings so when running away from them, make sudden sharp turns and if possible run to higher ground.
    3.When you follow animals into the wild, give them the respect they need.
    4.No selfies in the wild, please
    Don’t blame the Lodge, Police or guides, Tourists coming to Africa think we Africans are savages and that is why animals attack us.

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  24. Some tourists think they have that magic touch which can tame wild animals like Tarzan in the jungle book. There is a video clip I once saw of an elephant approaching some tourists seated around a table and instead of running for their lives they just decided to stay put. These silly tourists narrowly escaped death may be because the pachyderm did not mean business
    .

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  25. Zambians rarely get crashed by elephants… you know why ???

    We stay out of their way, we have come to learn that it’s wise to do so.

    And this is in now way disrespect to the departed.

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  26. Well that must serve as a lesson to many tourists frequenting Zambia and the National Parks. Please stay away from our animals and never get any closer to them and you will be safe. I have on many occasions come across Elephants crossing the road from the Mosi Otunya in Livingstone in large numbers, never has any charged at the people because we keep a safe distance from them. The deceased family can dispute the police report version and keep their own. The bottom line is that those two did not keep a safe distance from the animals which felt threaten and instinct to protect their own.

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  27. These two people looks old and am sure they fail to run when the elephant charged on them. Initially you are always advised to take a safe distance away from animals when going for game viewing not really sure what transpired here.

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  28. What the family should know is that 25 m away from an elephant is no safe distance, even for Usain Bolt at his peak. That distance reduces to zero in a flash when a charging elephant really means business. What with those padded feet and the 5 ton force, the giant simply darts home! Sending shrubs and bamboo thickets flying heavenwards out of its chosen straight line to target.

    As Sabine, being such an experienced game watcher, should have known better. One can only admire her gentleman friend for being a friend to the last, although that strong bond was no match faced with such massed furry.

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  29. If the video we saw is correct, then these guys probably committed suicide. In the video, they drove too close to the elephant.

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  30. WHAT THE RELATIVES DO NOT UNDERSTAND IS THAT 25 METRES IS TOO CLOSE TO THE ELEPHANTS. THESE ARE WILD ANIMALS. DISTANCE OF 25 METRES, EVERYDAY AN ELEPHANT WILL BE TRAMPLING YOU.

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  31. The Elephants along the Victoria falls-Kazungula corridor from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana have of late become a menace. This year alone, more fatalities have occurred due to the Human-wildlife conflict. The animals which enjoy a free reign of this region including parts of Angola, Namibia and western Zambia have been steadily growing in populations particularly with well deserving tough anti poaching measures supported by the Botswana government.
    Its sad that yet more lives had to be lost. Long term measures must be put in place by the governments in the region to mitigate the human-animal conflict. The Police statement was, however, too crude to the grieving families. The incident could not have been blamed on poor safety precautions by the deceased. We should be thinking of what…

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    • Too much poaching that’s why…Elephants have become protective, with these hungry Chines coming in and a porous border and airspace expect the number to raise!!

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  32. I wish you Zambians could discuss the death of 300 Somalians like this. Even the thousand dead in very neighbouring DRC dont attract this much discussion.

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  33. We have been on a few safaris. Once, in S Africa, we inadvertently walked within a few yards of a pride of lions (in the company of an armed guide). We walked backwards very slowly …. Another time, in Botswana, I was wandering to the lodge plunge pool and passed an elephant just feet away. No idea it was there until we passed – uneventfully. In the same lodge there was word an angry elephant was about so we were accompanied towards our hut. The guide said “It’s OK,” turned back but a few seconds later the elephant appeared going full tilt at us. The guide said, “Run!” and distracted the elephant as best he could. Well, we’re all still here. Then, in S Africa again, this time with our daughters and their children, we were having a refreshment break when the guide said,…

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  34. “The family of Goossens said she was ‘very familiar’ with elephants, according to Dutch newspaper AD”- IT IS THIS FAMILIARITY WHICH LEADS TO DECEPTION AND THINKING, “I understand animals..” NOT KNOWING THAT NOT ALL DAYS AND NOT ALL ANIMALS ARE THE SAME!! Who knows, may be the elephant that day was in a non nonsense mood? I LIKE this story bcoz it says ” It is unclear from the Dutch media reports if they witnessed the attack”- WHY SHOULD SOMEONE WHO WAS NOT THERE AND HAS NOT INVESTIGATED THE ISSUES ON SIGHT REFUTE WHAT THE POLICE have said with out providing alternative proof!!

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