Augusta’s Nguraren Kalleep reserve has been declared a hot spot for ringtail possums after a five-year study. The conservation study by researchers and volunteer citizen scientists identified 1922 adult ringtails and more than 500 youngsters, plus numerous other precious fauna. The Nature Conservation Margaret River Region Western Ringtail Possum Citizen Science Project concluded last week after logging more than 700 hours studying and monitoring the critically-endangered species. Backed by the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River and the Commonwealth’s National Landcare Program, the project aimed to bolster preservation efforts by drawing upon conclusive studies of the treasured marsupials. Project co-ordinator Lauren Scanlon praised the efforts of the local citizen science volunteers who 12 times a year for the past five years have surveyed 12 locations from Augusta to Cowaramup on the Wadandi Track and key bushland reserves. “When this program first started out, we feared we mightn’t have enough volunteers and wondered how we’d retain them for such a lengthy project,” she said. “But in fact we’ve been inundated with volunteers, many of whom who have been with us since the very beginning.” Among those volunteers was Margaret River’s Annie Marsh who volunteered throughout the life of the project. “I’ve got the time to do it,” she said, “and I really enjoy it. “It’s great to be outside and do my bit for these beautiful animals. “The ringtails are such sweet creatures.” Augusta’s Jenny Kikeros participated in every survey throughout the project’s five-year lifespan and was motivated by her love of the at-risk marsupials. “When we first went to Augusta, I was told there were no ringtails,” she said. “I wanted to show that wasn’t the case and to me it looks like the population in Augusta is stable. “Surveying at night, you also see phascogales, frogs, micro bats, owls, and it’s a privileged world and it makes you want to help protect it.” Ms Kikeros encouraged others with a love of the local environment to get involved in future Nature Conservation projects. “It’s just the best feeling of euphoria and awe, knowing you are doing your bit,” she said. Ms Scanlon said Nature Conservation monitoring would continue despite the project ending. The annual Ringtail Tally, which fed data into the project, would continue as well, guiding the group’s revegetation and conservation efforts.