The Star Wars™ Galaxy teems with a mind-boggling array of strange and fantastical creatures, from the microbial midi-chlorian organisms that create the Force to the monstrous Millennium Falcon-swallowing space slug. Yet one planet abounds with the most improbably diverse and curious wildlife - Tatooine.
For a dustbowl world perched on the outer rim of the Star Wars galaxy and plagued with blistering heat, desperate water shortages and planet-sweeping sand storms, Tatooine is not only home to some unique native species, but also attracts more than its fair share of alien visitors, and even immigrants. No doubt its remoteness from the reach of the Empire and the Old Republic has much to do with its popularity.
While new colonists invariably struggle with Tatooine’s harsh, arid environment, many setting up moisture farms to survive, the planet’s indigenous inhabitants, the nomadic Tuskens (aka Sandpeople) and Jawas, have best adapted to local conditions.
Wrapped from head to toe in ragged cloth, adorned with elaborate masks and brandishing spiked gaderffi sticks, the savage Tusken Raiders terrorise settlers and travellers, kidnapping and slaying their victims.
Also keen to conceal their features, the hooded Jawas are the master scavengers of Tatooine, roaming the desert in giant tank-like sandcrawlers in search of scrap metal and faulty equipment to trade. But haggle hard, as these pint-sized, profit-driven wheeler-dealers have a well-earned reputation as swindlers and thieves.
If you want to get around Tatooine and don’t have a sandcrawler or airspeeder to hand, there are some quadruped critters that can help.
Rontos - the Jawas’ favoured beast of burden, these large, lumbering creatures are valued for their strength and loyalty, but also their size, which scares off Tusken Raiders. A pity the Rontos’ poor eyesight makes them easily startled by sudden movements, usually followed by them throwing their riders.
Banthas - shaggy, mastodon-like beasts with which the Sandpeople share an almost mystical bond, so much so that when a Tusken rider dies, its bantha perishes soon after. And while Tuskens would never harm or eat their beloved banthas, the same can’t be said of Tatooine’s other inhabitants, many of whom like nothing better than bantha burger or jerky, washed down with a delicious blue bantha milkshake. If you’d like something stronger, try sparkling “Bantha-blood fizz”, made from purified bantha blood, a cool cocktail at the notorious Mos Eisley Cantina (more on that later).
Dewbacks - these hulking, omnivorous and easily domesticated reptiles wander Tatooine’s Dune Sea, and are popular with Imperial sandtrooper light infantry units, known as “dewback troopers”, who use them to patrol vast stretches of desert.
Eopies - tough, rangy herbivores, eopies are much sought after as pack animals by Tatooine’s moisture farmers, despite their surly, stubborn dispositions, and endearing habit of breaking wind if their load is too heavy.
While you’re out on the dunes, it’s best to avoid krayt dragons. These fearsome reptiles come in two species - the common “canyon krayt dragons”, which dwell in rock caves and can be tamed if you have the time and patience, and the ancient, larger and far more dangerous “greater krayt dragons”, which swim across Tatooine’s shifting sands, stalking prey. Both varieties produce precious pearls inside their guts that brave locals and foolhardy fortune hunters try to obtain.
Article by Cefn Ridout
Some people can’t make up their minds. Cefn is an editor, writer and designer who enjoys plying the waters between print and digital. In his long and winding career he’s worked with the ‘cool’ (Marvel Comics, Manga Entertainment and Dark Horse Comics), the ‘canny’ (Film Australia and British Council Australia), and the ‘corporate’ (McKinsey & Co. and Fuji Xerox). Yet as a pop culture vulture who can sadly connect Harrison Ford, Boris Karloff and Stan Lee within three degrees of separation, he feels right at home in DK Licensing.
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