BOSSES of a country estate have bid a sad farewell to Bramber the beaver.

The animal died at Knepp Estate on January 13 after suffering from septicaemia - when bacteria enter the bloodstream, causing blood poisoning which triggers sepsis.

Bramber was one of two beavers from Scotland reintroduced to Sussex in February as part of The Sussex Beaver Trial.

This was he first time in 400 years the animals had lived in the county having been hunted to extinction in the 16th century.

Bramber first proved his penchant for mischief when, alongside fellow beaver Billie, he escaped his enclosure soon after being introduced into the environment.

A Knepp Castle Estate spokesman said: "The Knepp license allows the release of beavers into a larger, semi-enclosed area.

"This is to help devise a method whereby beavers – a keystone species, and hugely important for biodiversity and flood mitigation – can, ultimately, be successfully introduced into larger, strategic areas in England.

"The early escapes of both Bramber and the female – named ‘Billie’ by members of the local angling club on whose pond she was safely recaptured – show that Knepp’s £45,000-worth of reinforced fencing and barriers across ditches, culverts and streams leading out of the project were, unfortunately, not enough to deter them from exploring."

Bramber was spotted by people across Adur, with photos and videos from excited spotters proving he was covering huge distances each day.

This made him very trick to recapture.

Penny Green, Knepp’s ecologist, spent several days quietly observing him in order to learn his habits and work out where best to set the trap for his recapture. In the company of several anglers, Penny watched him gnawing off a branch of willow and pulling it to his favourite feeding spot where he stripped off the bark.

A few days later, after a spell of cold weather had subsided, Penny set a big Bavarian beaver trap with apples and carrots...and Bramber couldn’t resist.

A Knepp Estate spokesman said: "He was transported back to Knepp but seemed a little subdued and lethargic on arrival, reluctant to leave the carrying crate.

"He was eventually moved into the stable – his temporary home – stocked with straw, food, willow branches and water trough but, to the great sadness of Penny and the Knepp team, he died in the night."

Billie, Bramber's female counterpart, remains in captivity at Knepp pending relocation to a licensed beaver enclosure.

Meanwhile, having studied the movements of the beavers over hours of trail cameras, the team at Knepp are planning the appropriate adjustments to the fencing – work that will be carried out in the spring when the ground dries out – with the aim of releasing another two beavers, this time hopefully a bonded pair, later in 2021.