A Tusken Raider riding a bantha. This particular shot was filmed in a part of Death Valley named Desolation Canyon, which Star Wars fans call "Bantha Canyon".
Banthas are fictional creatures in the Star Wars universe. They are large elephant-sized mounts, with long furry tails, that are native to the planet of Tatooine. They were found throughout the galaxy on several worlds, and are easily domesticated. They were used for transportation, carrying heavy loads, and as beasts of war.
The first bantha to appear on-screen was in the original 1977 Star Wars. Computer-generated imagery was not used to create the creature. Rather, an elephant was dressed in a costume of fur and fake horns. This proved problematic for George Lucas during filming. The elephant was unaccustomed to heat, and during the filming of Tatooine scenes in Death Valley, California, its costume kept coming off. Lucas retained the original shots of the elephant, rather than replacing them with CGI, for the 1997 re-release of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
A song entitled "Oh Bantha", which paid tribute to the gastronomy of these fictional characters, was written and performed by popular actor John O'Hurley and released on "Tusken Raider Tunes, Parody Songs from a Galaxy Far Far Away", a limited edition Star Wars-themed novelty album. The first official Star Wars fan publication, Bantha Tracks, which existed for 35 issues from 1978 to 1987, is named after the bantha.
Brandon Alinger (1999). "Visiting The Set – Desolation Canyon". Star Wars in Death Valley. — maps and coordinates for "Bantha Canyon", with comparisons between stills from the film, filmed in Spring 1976, and photographs of the canyon taken in October 2000