Molentargius park: a naturalistic oasis near Cagliari
The Molentargius park is an extraordinary naturalistic oasis in the southern part of Sardinia, it hosts thousands of flamingos every year and is a symbol of the Mediterranean island.
While discovering Cagliari and its surroundings, one must also visit the Molentargius Park, Is Molentargius in Sardinian. The natural area in the south part of Sardinia is protected by regional law n.5 since the 26th of February 1999 to value and safeguard the environmental, historical, and cultural heritage of the area.
The Molentargius-Saline regional park is close to the ancient city of Casteddu and shares its northern border with the city of Quartu Sant’Elena, its western one with some districts of Cagliari (San Benedetto, Genneruxi, La Palma, Quartiere del Sole, Poetto), its southeast one with the coast of Poetto and its eastern one with the district of Margine Rosso.
The natural oasis is of about 1600 hectares and is considered one of the most important wetlands in Europe. Molentargius Pond is included in the official list of wetlands to be protected, in the seventies, it was nominated the first Wetland of international importance by the Ramsar Convention and then Special Protection Area (SPA). It’s also a Site of Community Importance (SCI) under the European Union Directive, the so-called Habitats Directive, no. 43 of 1992.
The history of the park is connected to that of the salt pans as demonstrated by the origin of the toponym Molentargius that derives from the Sardinian word molenti or donkey. The àinu, burriccu, or poleddu, other names that indicate the Sardinian donkey, were the animals which the carters, called is molentargius, used to tow the barges loaded with salt. It should be remembered that the pond area has been the richest basin of Sardinia for the extraction of sea salt for over two centuries, an activity interrupted only in 1985.
One of the protected natural area’s main features is the presence of saltwater basins and freshwater basins, two different systems coexisting in the same territory, and separated from the plain of Is Arenas. Therefore, from the hydrological point of view, more formations are distinguished.
The Bellarossa Minore and Perdalonga ponds (expansion tanks of meteoric waters) are freshwater areas, while the areas of saltwater include the Bellarossa Maggiore or Molentargius (tank of first evaporation), the pond of Quartu (second and third evaporation tanks), other salting tanks (Saline di Cagliari) and the Perda Bianca (former mother-water collection basin).
The Bellarossa Minore is in the northern area of the system of ponds and has tributary streams such as Riu Mortu, Riu Nou, and Riu Is Cungiaus, also refined water coming from a phytopurification plant called ecosystem filter. The ecosystem filter is between the pond of Bellarossa Minore and Bellarossa Maggiore and occupies the central area of the ponds.
The characteristic flora of the territory varies according to the area, the typical vegetation of freshwater environments includes straws of the marsh, typhoons, and water lentils surrounding the saltwater ponds are Salicornia, halophytic vegetation, and rare species on the “red lists” of endangered plants.
Molentargius park: pink flamingos kingdom
The Phoenicopterus roseus – the scientific name of the pink flamingo or greater flamingo, is a symbol of the Molentargius park.
Common in Asia, Africa, and southern Europe, since the 90’s the pink flamingos have begun to nest also in the pond of Molentargius, in particular near the Bellarosa Maggiore where the Artemia salina, known also as sea monkey has been found.
The Artemia Salina is a small crustacean living in environments where there is high salinity and is Phoenicopterus roseus favorite food. The tiny arthropod is rich in beta-carotene, a red-orange pigment that settles in the feathers of the flamingos giving them the characteristic pink color.
In Sardinian pink flamingos are called Sa Genti Arrubia meaning “Red people”, they are not the only animals inhabiting the pond. Within the oasis, it is possible to admire from a close also Pelecaniformes, like the cormorant, Cuculiformes, including greater white herons and red herons, and the gruiform, an order of birds that includes purple gallinules and water rails.
That’s not all, there are also Anseriformes, charadriiforms, coraciiform, and passeriform to which are to be added amphibians, like the emerald toad and the Sardinian tree frog, and reptilians, like the common water turtles and the marginated ones.
Access to Molentargius Park is free of charge. You can walk, run, ride a bike, or let the children play in the playing areas. Pets are allowed on condition that they are on a leash or muzzled if bigger.
The park is open at the following times:
- from the 1st of March to the 15th of October from 06.30 am to 9.00 pm
- from the 16th of October to the 28th of February from 07.00sm to 6.00 pm
For further information or to book guided tours, contact the InfoPoint by calling: +39 070 379191 or visit the website www.parcomolentargius.it.