Gundarks were fearsome anthropoids from Vanqor known as one of the most vicious, strong, and aggressive species in the galaxy. These non-sentient creatures stood between 1 and 2.5 meters tall, with four powerful arms and large ears as wide as their head. Both their hands and feet ended with opposable digits. Gundarks were covered in short brown or gray hair.
Biology and appearance
Gundarks were birthed live with black coats of fur, and were able to fight almost from birth. A gundark's hair lightened as it grew older and its large, bat-themed ears began to enlarge until, at puberty, they reach the width of its head, hence the expression "strong enough to pull the ears off a gundark." These creatures were born with only two of its four adult arms, with the second pair emerging during adolescence.
There were several subspecies of gundark, including the Burskan gundark of Burska and an unidentified green subspecies with four equal sized arms, a tail ending in a pincher-like pair of claws, two toed feet, and a more reptilian appearance. Another sub-species was the Brachian Beastlord which was found on the moon Lamus. It was particularly vicious compared to main-line gundarks, and had a poisonous bite.
In addition to true gundarks, other species of carnivores were called gundarks by a young scientist named Kin Kimdyara, not because of physical resemblance but because of a similarly vicious, surly temperament. These species included the long-necked gundark of Kharzet III and the aquatic gundark of Yavin 4.
Behaviour and intelligence
Though not quite as intelligent as sentient creatures, gundarks were advanced enough to use simple tools such as rocks and clubs. (In spite of this, the expression "gundark brain" was used as an intelligence insult.) They lived in organized family units inside hollowed-out trees or caves. Several gundark families often lived together as a tribe, working for their common survival. Gundark society was matriarchal, with the oldest and most cunning female ruling the tribe. Males built the tribal homes and defended them ferociously from all intruders, attacking anything that entered the vicinity of the nest (and even some things that did not). Female gundarks were usually hunter-gatherers, acquiring the food needed by the tribe and training the young gundarks who weren't old enough to go out on their own.
Gundarks had intense sibling rivalries that sometimes ended in fatalities. Young gundarks usually set out on their own after five standard years with their clan, fighting their way into a new clan whom they would then call family. This practice helped the gundarks keep a great deal of genetic diversity. Gundarks usually hunted in groups when out for food or protecting the home. Male gundarks were particularly fierce while on the hunt, and female gundarks considered most sentient species to be their food.
In gladiatorial arenas, a gundark was one of the most dangerous and feared opponents. The gundark's short temper and thirst for blood meant that it would attack without provocation. A battle-scarred gundark was frequently the favored creature in most arena matches, even against opponents such as rancors or trompa. Because of a gundark's especially keen senses they were sometimes put into contests blinded or blindfolded to make the event "more sporting". Spectators would wait to see how long a less formidable creature could stay away from the gundark's lethal embrace. The fearsome and unpredictable nature of the four-armed beast encouraged trainers to handle it with extreme caution. Trainers would often use a force pike to control their gundark, or else assign it a special guard detail. Gundarks were often kept sedated during transport. Due to the cost of gundark containment measures, trainers rarely had more than one in their pool of gladiators.
Gundarks normally fought with bare hands and relied on their enormous four-armed strength to overcome opponents, but were also capable of using simple blunt weapons such as clubs. Gundarks were strong enough to smash bones with their hands. In the wild, they often ambushed opponents, hiding until their prey was within close range and taking the victim by surprise. If unarmed, a gundark would often try to grapple its foe in an attempt to crush it to death.
- "I thought gundarks were only found on Vanqor!"
"Then this system must be Vanqor."
- ―Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi
By the time of the Cold War, gundarks predominated in the jungles of Dromund Kaas as one the species at the top of the food chain. Thereafter gundarks were found on many worlds throughout the galaxy, such as Naboo and Alaris Prime, and tended to live in temperate climates, though reports of arctic and desert gundarks were heard. The gundark homeworld was most possibly Vanqor, for that was the only planet they were found on during the Clone Wars. Most gundark populations on other worlds were the offspring of escaped slaves or groups moved to new planets by Galactic Republic agents attempting to protect them from slavery. Though it was illegal to capture or hunt gundarks on many planets the creatures were often captured and sold on the black market. Because of their reputation as fearless combatants, gundarks were placed in gladiatorial arenas, and were considered the ultimate prey by many big game hunters.
Between 39 BBY and 36 BBY gundarks were a persistent threat in the early stages of the colonization of Alaris Prime. One of the first artificial structures built there, a Trade Federation power core, was destroyed by gundarks, driving off the Federation forces in that area. A group of four gundarks attacked the first Wookiee settlement there, but were killed by three of the colonial leaders; Attichitcuk, Chewbacca, and Shoran before they could inflict any serious damage. Another group of four gundarks later attacked a command center run by Chewbacca, who defeated them with the help of the command center's turret. Consistent gundark attacks caused both the Trade Federation and the Wookiees to independently plan to exterminate the gundarks at their nest. The resulting attack rendered the gundarks extinct on Alaris Prime.
At some point prior to Anakin and Obi-Wan's assignment of guarding Senator Padmé Amidala from an assassination attempt, Obi-Wan and Anakin fell into a Gundark's nest, with Obi-Wan noting that, until guarding the senator, this had been the most tense Anakin had been, although Anakin reminded Obi-Wan that Anakin went in the nest to rescue Obi-Wan.
Saying that someone "looked strong enough to pull the ears off a gundark" meant that they were healthy and unusually strong.
A video game called Gundark Trainer allowed players to train gundarks, but it was very violent. Roan Novachez enjoyed playing this game after forming a brief friendship with the bullies Cronah and Cyrus.
Behind the scenes
The New Essential Guide to Alien Species claims that aquatic gundarks are true gundarks and identical to normal gundarks save for having four eyes. However, this contradicts previous sources such as The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide, as aquatic gundarks have multiple eyes, flippers, long tails, and no legs; furthermore, their bodies and heads are completely different.
The instruction booklet for the 1993 Super Nintendo Entertainment System video game Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back spells the gundark, one of the player-character's minor enemies, as "Gundarc."
Gundarks are identified in an entry on The Old Republic website's Holonet databank which features Aurebesh phrases such as "Sith Spawn," and "Dromund Kaas." In addition, it also had been labeled as "Jungle Skin Flayer" during the PAX walkthrough video for the game.
In one of the earlier appearances of gundarks, in Star Wars (1977) 51, the gundarks are portrayed as large, orange, quadrupedal creatures with long tongues. Curiously, they don't appear to have ears, despite the mention of the creatures in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back specifically mentioning their ears.
In contrast, the designing crew for Star Wars: The Clone Wars went to great lengths to make sure the ears were visible on the creature.
Notes and references
- The Essential Guide to Alien Species
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex: "Qyzen Fess"
- The Wellspring
- Star Wars: The Old Republic
- Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
- The New Essential Chronology places the colonization of Alaris Prime betwen 39 BBY and 36 BBY.
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones.
- Interview with Jeffrey Brown
- Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan