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"It seemed to Hazel that he would not be needing his body any more, so he left it lying on the edge of the ditch, but stopped for a moment to watch his rabbits and to try to get used to the extraordinary feeling that strength and speed were flowing inexhaustibly out of him into their sleek young bodies and healthy senses.
"You needn't worry about them," said his companion. "They'll be alright - and thousands like them."
A spokesman for Oneworld publications, which brought out a new edition of Watership Down with illustrations by Aldo Galli in 2014, said they were "very saddened" at his death.
"His books will be cherished for years to come," the spokesman said.
A new animated series of the book, co-produced by the BBC and Netflix, is due to be aired in 2017 with four hour-long episodes.
Sir Ben Kingsley, Olivia Colman and John Boyega have been cast to provide voices in the new adaptation.