An elephant handler in Zimbabwe has been killed after he was trampled to death by a domesticated male bull at a park in Victoria Falls.

Enock Kufandada, 50, was killed in the "freak accident" while attempting to herd the elephant into a pen while working for the Adventure Town tour operator.

The bull elephant, named Mbanje, was used for elephant rides had to be shot and killed by Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers.

One witness said she did not see the attack but saw Mbanje covered in blood afterwards. He told Zimbabwe newspaper Newsday: "I heard him screaming and crying for help, but it was just for seconds.

"I then rushed to check on him and that is when I met the elephants walking on the road and I spotted Mbanje following from behind covered with blood all over...[the handler] was torn apart, all body parts were ravaged."

The tour operators described the accident as a "one in a million" episode as domesticated elephants don't usually attack humans.

But Glynnis Vaughan, chief inspector of the Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ZNSPCA) said Kufandada death is proof that African elephants can never be fully domesticated.

He said: "Captured elephants which were used by several tourist companies have killed quite a few people in recent years," she said.

"We should not be surprised when there are tragedies after elephants are captured in the wild when they are young, and taken from their families. Teaching a young elephant to get on to its knees so that people can mount it is vicious, it's cruel."

Brent Williamson, owner of Adventure Town, confirmed Kufandada's death, adding he was a valued staff member and will "sincerely be missed".

Williamson said: "The management and staff of Adventure Zone would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere condolences to Kufandanda's family and friends for this tragic event," he said.

"There is an ongoing investigation into how and why this incident occurred."