A Newcastle PhD student says a spate of deliberately lit car fires have wiped out rehabilitated habitat and destroyed thousands of rare and endangered animals on Kooragang Island.

Chad Beranek has been studying the effect of habitat restoration on the green and golden bell frog population and was carrying out survey work in the early hours of Saturday morning when a car was torched near where he was working.

It’s one of at least 10 car fires in recent months, with embers from Saturday’s blaze believed to have smouldered in a nearby swamp marsh before being re-ignited by hot westerly winds that afternoon.

Chad Beranek has told Fairfax the recent fires have cost as much as $100,000 in property damage and lost research opportunities.

Chad Beranek Surveys The Burntout Habitat Picture: theherald,com,au