Although fauna may appear to be quite limited, due to extensive hunting over the colonisation period and to the fact that Guadeloupe was populated relatively early, it is in actual fact rich and endemic, with numerous species found nowhere else in the world. The national park strives to preserve at risk wild species, with the Guadeloupe zoo in the Mamelles park, for instance.
The most characteristic are the racoon, imported from the United States in the XIXth century, bats (13 species, of which, two, at least, are unique), the mongoose (imported from India) and the endangered agouti. The manatee was reintroduced in the Grand Cul de Sac Marin natural reservation in 2015, after a 100-year disappearance.
The bird population is numerous on land and at sea. The land population includes the Guadeloupe pecker (also called “tapeur”), which is the only sedentary pecker of the Petites Antilles, humming birds, several species of thrush, pheasant, doves, flycatchers, and warblers. At sea and on the coastline, le frigate is common, as well as the brown pelican and several tern species.
Guadeloupe is completely snake free, but has an abundance of iguanas, anoles and five different species of marine turtles.
Lobsters, spider crabs, land and sea crabs, slipper lobsters can be found in profusion in the sea as well as soft water shrimps (ouassous) and soft water crabs in rivers, ponds and lakes.
The most widespread are, of course, mosquitoes; nevertheless, the rest of the insect world is also well represented and exceptionally diverse. Some species, such as the sawyer beetle, one of the longest beetles in the world, or the mourning butterfly and the stick insect (devil’s horse), can reach impressive lengths.
The national park covers three types of natural environment.
There are several vegetation layers:
– Dense, humid mountain forest covers 80 % of the heart of the park between the altitudes of 300 and 1,000 meters. There are high trees (30 – 35 meters) such as the white gum tree, the chestnut tree, or the acomat-boucan, average sized trees (6 – 10 metres high) oleander, marbri ; shrubs and bushes (0 – 10 m): the mountain palm, heliconias, ferns, as well as numerous hanging plants: bromeliads, philodendrons, asplundia, orchids and lianas.
– Above 1,000 meters altitude, high humidity and clouds generate a much lower forest than lower in the mountains. The vegetation is mossy, savannah-like, with a profusion of lichen, sphagnum mosses as well as tougher vegetation such as mountain mangrove, Guzmania plumieri which develop around flowers: mountain violets, thyme, or fuschia.
Vegetation is sparser on the coast due to the salinity of the air and the soil, the sun and lack of rain as well as the strong winds. The most widespread species are the seaside grape and the pear tree.
Mangroves are coastal forests, which are permanently or punctually flooded by salt or freshwater. These forests are very common in Guadeloupe as the coral reefs protect a large part of the coast from strong deep-sea wave swells.
Approximately 3,700 hectares of mangrove out of a total of 8,000 were integrated into the heart of the national park in June 2009.
These forests are essentially mangrove trees. Source: Wikipedia