The Tunisian dessert set of Mos Espa, built to be Anakin Skywalker’s hometown on Tatooine in the Star Wars films, is on its way to being destroyed by encroaching sand dunes.

Anakin Skywalker's Hometown: Popular Tourist Attraction

The Tatooine settlement was originally built for the filming of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999). The Mos Espa settlement was also featured in Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), but has not been used since. However, the Tunisian government has kept Darth Vader’s birthplace in tact as a popular tourist attraction.

Mos Espa consists of about 20 brown buildings spread around 10,000 square meters north of Tozeur, Tunisia. The desert’s sand dunes have already buried a reported 10 percent of the city, and officials have started an Indiegogo fundraiser online in the hopes that Star Wars fans will donate money to keep the sets in tact.

“Mos Espa is located in a very windy region, threatened by sand dunes which the wind moves by around 15 meters a year. One dune has already buried 10 percent of the Star Wars site. We managed to remove 8,000 cubic meters of sand in 12 days. Unfortunately some of the set has already collapsed,” revealed Nabil Gasmi of Tunisia Tourism.

Save Mos Espa

According to the Indiegogo page, ‘Save Mos Espa,’ steps to preserve the city have already been taken and the Tunisian government has donated money to begin removing sand from the city. The page explains the importance of the film set, claiming that Mos Espa is not only of huge cultural importance, but also a great source of income for Tunisia and an asset to the country’s economy.

One of the campaign launchers, Gerald Verniers, wrote that the team has officially finished removing sand from the set and are now beginning the second step to restore the set: “Move the big dune away.” The page is hoping to raise $45,000 by its June 6, 2014 deadline. So far, it has raised $3,607 from 61 donors.

It is unknown whether or not Star Wars: Episode VII – currently in pre-production – could affect the efforts to maintain and restore Mos Espa, but it was reported on Wednesday that production for Episode VII will likely build an entirely new Tatooine set in “a Morocco-like environment.”

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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