Park ranger Solomzi Radebe, known as an animal whisperer, yelled in isiZulu to stop a raging elephant as it charged at a vehicle carrying journalists. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Mogwase - What seemed like a normal game reserve tour almost ended in tragedy when an agitated male elephant almost tipped over a vehicle carrying reporters in Manyane Resort outside Rustenburg on Tuesday.

The elephant was the first animal spotted near a dam in the resort. Park ranger Solomzi Radebe, 42, drove closer as the 52-year-old male scratched its torso against a tree trunk.

Radebe says he saw the elephant getting agitated and charging towards the vehicle. Just before it reached the front passenger side, the ranger shouted "Buyela emuva! Buyela emuva!", meaning "get back" in isiZulu.

The elephant stopped dead in its tracks, took a step back and walked away, leaving behind a deafening silence in the vehicle as the nightmare ended before it began.

Radebe, known at the resort by the nickname "Buffalo Soldier" is regarded as a true animal whisperer. 

He has been employed at the resort for 18 years and can communicate with all animals although he does not boast about it.

"I was not scared when the elephant approached the vehicle," he said. "I have been doing this for so long that I can see when they are unsettled."

"I told him (elephant) to stop when I noticed he was planning to tip over the vehicle.  He and other animals are used to my voice and we have an understanding," he said.

Such experiences are nothing new for the wildlife lover. He has a scar between his eyes from an encounter with a black rhino. He was guiding tourists when they were ambushed by a male and female rhino.

"I was hit by one of the rhinos as I was trying to save the tourists. I woke up in hospital but still, I knew I had to go back to the wilderness. Of course, my family was against it but I knew that the only way to heal was going back to the wild," Radebe said.

In this week's incident, the group of journalists also had to deal with a pride of lions lying on the road. It took Radebe about ten minutes to clear them off the road with headlights.

The reporters are on a four-day long tour through the Moses Kotane local municipality, to explore first-hand tourism in the area which includes various game reserves.

African News Agency/ANA