HORSES IN STRIPES: ZEBRAS
at first sight remind us of horses. As in the case of horses,
zebras, too, have hair which we call a "mane". Their body
structures are also very similar to horses and they run as
fast as them.
Yet, their appearance is strikingly different.
As you might also suppose, this difference lies in the straight
stripes that cover their bodies from head to toe. Do not underestimate
a stripe, since these stripes are different in every single
zebra. Just like the fingerprint, which is unique to every
person, the stripes of zebras are all different. Stripes provide
identification data for a zebra just like an ID card does
for humans. The vertical stripes of zebras are also an important
element of defence. When they come together, tigers and lions
perceive the herd as a whole. In this case, it becomes difficult
for the predator to choose the individual zebra, which becomes
a protection for the zebras.
There are two essential elements necessary for
zebras to survive: water and grass.
times, a zebra herd wanders for 50 kilometres (31 miles) to
find water and grass. But at nights they return to their own
places. That is because, as we mentioned earlier about other
animals, each herd leads its life in a particular territory.
Do you know that zebras very much like to take
dust-baths? Indeed, zebras are very fond of dust-baths. That
is because, dust-baths remove the parasites living on their
bodies. Apart from this, zebras have guests that accompany
them and help them in their cleaning. Oxpeckers feed on the
ticks found on the hides of zebras. This way, one by one they
pick the parasites that make zebras sick and cause them to
itch. As you see, our Lord, Who plans and controls the lives
of all the creatures and makes them helpers for each other,
has also assigned some animals as helpers of others.
About half an hour after birth, a new-born zebra
stands up and begins to walk, though in a faltering trembling
manner. No sooner do they walk than they begin to suck their
mothers' milk. Milk is very beneficial for a new-born creature.
This milk, which is pink in colour by a special creation of
Allah, protects them from illnesses from birth onwards. Besides
that, it secures the proper functioning of their intestines.
as is the case with all other creatures under Allah's protection,
are equipped with defence mechanisms that Allah has taught
them. The first of these defence mechanisms is their very
sensitive sensory organs, such as seeing, hearing and smell,
which Allah has given them at birth. The sensitivity of these
sensory organs enables zebras to notice their predators quickly
and run away. No sooner do they begin to run than they reach
an incredible speed. The second defence mechanism is the following:
when the herd fall asleep, one or two zebras stay awake and
watch out for possible threats.
Zebras employ the defence tactics that are similar
to those of human beings. However, it is interesting that
these animals live in harmony in herds and make a division
of labour. It is obvious that it is Allah Who creates zebras,
collects them together and provides their sustenance and Who
commands them to make a division of labour. If this was not
the case, no one would be able to explain why some zebras
make sacrifices such as staying awake all night long to protect
On the other hand, for the new-born zebra who
has recently opened his eyes to this world, the defence tactics
Allah has taught him are much simpler. All he has to do is
stay close to his mother. That is because, it is impossible
for a new-born zebra to see stealthy enemies with his newly
opened eyes or run away from them with his weak, trembling
limbs. You see, Allah has inspired the new-born zebra to remain
next to his mother always until he grows up. Otherwise, how
could he know that there are predators around waiting for
him and that the most secure place for him is with his mother?
zebras live on open grasslands where there is not much possibility
to hide. For this reason, in order to stay alive, they need
to move very fast. All the body structure of a zebra is devised
to meet this need. For instance, their limbs are very long;
they can run very long distances without becoming exhausted
or losing speed. Although light, the bones of zebras are very
Zebras feel the need to drink water very often.
In regions where water is scarce, they use their sharp sense
of smell and dig a hole to reach fresh water. In moments of
danger, mature zebras push young zebras into the middle of
the herd to protect them. As the zebras run together, young
animals always remain inside the herd and run close to their
mothers for better protection.
GIRAFFES: LIKE SPECKLED TOWERS
reaching a height of five to six metres (15-20 feet), you
could find a resemblance between giraffes and speckled towers.
The longest part of a giraffe is its neck. Its long neck enables
it to reach the remotest branches on trees and feed by grazing
on the sprouts and leaves. These thorny plants, which the
giraffes don't chew, first go directly into their four-compartment
stomach. Then they regurgitate them back to the mouth, where
the giraffe chews them. Finally, they swallow them again and
send them to another compartment in their stomach.
However, there is something very interesting
about this process. As we have recently mentioned, giraffes
regurgitate thorny plants from their stomachs back to their
mouths to be chewed. But, as you may imagine, this is rather
a long journey. The food needs to travel a distance of three
or four metres (10-13 feet) in the long neck of the giraffe.
As you can also imagine, it is unlikely that the food could
proceed to its destination on its own. You are curious about
how giraffes could manage this, right? Let us explain it:
there is a lift-like system in a giraffe's neck that makes
this possible. No doubt, it is impossible for giraffes to
think, "In order to digest our food, we need to send it back
to our mouths; so, we must build a lift system to accomplish
the other hand, such a system could not have come about by
accident. You would certainly laugh at a person who tells
you, "I went to that vacant area where many years ago I left
some materials to construct a building. To my surprise, I
found a huge building instead of the materials. No doubt,
rain, snow and sun must have worked together to build this
building over the years." You would also think that this man
must have gone insane and would therefore feel pity for him.
It would likewise be unreasonable to think that the lift system
in a giraffe's neck had come into being in the same way. Such
a system could not have come into existence by chance.
Furthermore, a giraffe is not a lifeless building
made up of rocks, soil and mud bricks. It is a living being
that runs, feels hungry and delivers babies. Is it possible
that such a living being could have come into existence accidentally?
Is it possible that coincidence could grant him a long neck
equipped with workable systems? Of course not.
It is obvious that anything a giraffe needs
has been given it at birth by Allah. Allah has specially created
the mouth and stomach structures of giraffes so that they
can eat thorny, spiky plants without difficulty.
As in the case of the structure of its neck,
the way a giraffe sleeps reminds us of Allah's existence.
While sleeping, giraffes extend their necks towards their
body. Except for a few minutes, they sleep on their feet in
this position. Giraffes do not sleep all at the same time;
one of them stays awake to protect the others. That a giraffe
sacrifices its sleep for the sake of other giraffes and their
reaching agreement about this shows us Allah's control over
giraffes as in the case of all other animals.
let's set aside how these speckled animals eat their food
and talk about the way they drink water. Probably most people
have never thought about how a giraffe bends down and drinks
water without difficulty. However, our Lord, Who is the Creator
of everything, wants us to ponder over such delicate systems.
First, let's make it clear that while drinking
water, a serious problem awaits these long-necked creatures.
To understand this essential problem, we need
to remember one thing: Do you recall what happens when you
try to stand upside down? Exactly! Your face immediately turns
red. That is because, our blood rushes to our heads with the
effect of the force of gravity and exerts a pressure on the
veins, which is called "blood pressure".
This is exactly what should happen when giraffes
try to drink water. However, as you may also imagine this
could be a major problem. Since giraffes are very tall animals
- around five or six metres (15-20 feet) - the blood pressure
on the head bending down from such a height becomes very great.
If a human being were exposed to such high blood pressure,
his brain would immediately burst.
This being the case, how do giraffes drink water
without having a cerebral haemorrhage? That is because, Allah,
the Creator of space, the sky, the earth and all creatures,
has placed a very special mechanism inside a giraffe's head.
There are little valves inside the veins of a giraffe's head.
Once the height of a giraffe's head changes, these valves
start to operate and prevent high blood pressure in the head.
Well, have you ever thought about why giraffes
are speckled? This aesthetic appearance, in harmony with the
grasslands, makes it hard for their enemies to distinguish
the giraffes. Despite their giant bodies, they can thus hide
from the king of the savannah, that is the lion, their foremost
moments of danger, giraffes run at speeds of 55 to 60 kilometres
(34 to 37 miles) per hour. When they begin to run, they move
their heads back and forth like a pump, and curl their tails.
Unlike other animals, giraffes do not take crossed steps.
That is, they move their left front and hind limbs first,
and then the right front and hind limbs. Owing to this, lions
are hardly able to catch giraffes.
This is, no doubt, not the case for young giraffes.
With their premature and weak limbs, they cannot run as fast
as their mothers. For this reason, they become easy prey for
lions. Yet, as we mentioned earlier, these babies always remain
with their mothers. With their long limbs, mothers can give
fatal kicks and thus protect them. We must stop here for a
moment and think. What we call a 'giraffe' is not a human
being. It is an animal. Animals do not have the faculty of
thought. So, the protection giraffes and other animals provide
for their young becomes possible by Allah's inspiration to
them. Allah is the All-Compassionate. Regarding the mercy
and compassion of Allah, a verse in the Qur'an reads as follows:
For your Lord is All-Compassionate, Most
Merciful. (Surat an-Nahl: 47)
the largest animals on land, have two major kinds of species;
African and Asian elephants. African elephants are larger
than the others. They may be as high as three and a half metres
(12 feet) and their weight reach around six tons (12,000 pounds).
Their fan-shaped ears are two metres (6.5 feet) long and one
and a half metres (5 feet) wide. As you can imagine, with
such a giant body, you can't keep an elephant at home as a
What makes an elephant especially different
is his trunk. This long trunk, similar to a garden hose, includes
fifty thousand muscles. What you have read is right: "50,000"
muscles! Its nostrils are at the tip of this trunk. Elephants
use their trunks to put food and water into their mouths,
to lift things and, of course, to smell. This trunk is capable
of holding four litres of water. They either squirt this water
into their mounts and drink it or spray it on their bodies.
Surprisingly, an elephant can even pick up a
tiny pea seed with its trunk - which can lift such huge things
- break it in its mouth and eat it. It is really amazing that
such a huge animal can accomplish such delicate operations.
This "multifunctional" trunk can be used as a long finger,
a trumpet or sometimes as a loudspeaker.
that, elephants use their trunks to spray water on themselves
to have a shower or throw dust on themselves for a dust-bath.
Yet, new-born elephants fail to use their trunks. They sometimes
even step on their trunks and fall down. We may find this
amusing but surely these little babies do not like it. A mother
elephant accompanies her young elephant for twelve years.
During the first six months, she teaches the baby how to use
its trunk and she never becomes bored doing this.
On both sides of their mouths, elephants have
two long sharp tusks. These tusks help them to protect themselves.
Also, an elephant uses one of these tusks to dig holes in
the ground and find water.
The teeth of these animals - which chew fibrous
plants - wear out easily. For this reason, our Lord has given
them a very important characteristic: Every worn-out tooth
is replaced by another in the back row.
One full-grown elephant can eat 330 kilograms
(726 pounds) of plants everyday. This amount is equal to six
small bales of straw. Everyday, elephants spend most of their
time feeding themselves.
Now, let us give you another interesting piece
of information about elephants. Have you ever thought how
these huge thick-skinned animals cool themselves? As you might
imagine, elephants cannot sweat because of their thick skins.
Instead, they cool themselves with the help of the water and
mud they see around. Of course, elephants have other methods
to freshen themselves. For example, they use their ears as
fans and cool their bodies with them. The thin blood veins
on their ears also cool them and cause overall refreshment.
feature of elephants has surprised hunters and zoologists
for a long time. What astonished them was the rumbling of
elephants' stomachs. While rumbling, elephants' stomachs make
very loud noises. Yet, what is astonishing is not the loudness
of these noises but the way elephants control them. In fact
these noises have nothing to do with digestion. The elephants
make these noises to detect the location of their friends.
More surprisingly, in the face of a danger, they all of a
sudden become silent. Once they sense the threat is over,
they start making noise again. Thanks to this method, elephants
can communicate with one another even from four kilometres
The migration stories of elephants have always
astonished zoologists. These animals with their giant ears
and huge bodies migrate in the dry seasons and always follow
the same paths. What is even more interesting is that they
clean up garbage such as chips of wood they find on their
Since elephants are animals that spread
over vast areas of land, it is essential that they establish
strong "communications" between them. Elephants do not owe
this communication to their sharp sense of smell alone. Beside
this, Allah has created an organ on their forehead, which
makes a hoarse noise. Thanks to this organ, elephants talk
to each other with a secret, coded language other animals
fail to understand. These hoarse noises elephants make can
reach very long distances. For this reason, this special noise
that elephants make is ideal for long distance conversation.