Basse Terre and Grande Terre are the largest islands of the Guadeloupe group. The mangrove swamps straddling the Salee River separate the two islands. Basse Terre has a volcanic base .The higher elevations are doted with highland lakes frequented by wild ducks and teal. The Guadeloupe National Park is two thirds of Basse Terre's' tropical forests, from the hills at 820 feet to the mountain summit at 4813 feet. Mahogany, rosewood and jatoba grow in the lower level (below 1600 feet) along with banana plantations. A montane covers the bulk of the park to 3300 feet. Foliage is thick, low growing orchids and ferns are overshadowed by shrubs and herb-type plants. Trees like oleander grow twenty to thirty feet. Chestnuts and tabonuco tower up to 100 feet. Above 3300 feet there is constant cloud cover and it's so wet that foliage is diminished, resembling a savanna.
The Guadeloupe Raccoon
, a subspecies of the common raccoon is endangered. Its' numbers have dwindled with the loss of mangroves and rainforest. The raccoons are hunted for food. Reportedly the crab eating raccoon has been introduced to the islands.Ten species of bats inhabit the island. The Guadeloupe Big Brown Bat
and Yellow Shouldered Bat are endemic. The agouti, a burrowing rodent about the size of a rabbit is also endangered. The Guadeloupe Woodpecker
is endemic to Basse Terre and Grande Terre and threatened by habitat loss.
La Desirade, seven miles long and about a mile wide has a dry forest habitat. Groves of fan palms and cactus dominate. Iguanas, agoutis and tropical birds inhabit the island.