The largest of Africa’s carnivores, and second-largest member of the family Felidae (after the Tiger Panthera tigris), standing as much as 1.25 m at the shoulder. Body muscular and deep-chested; head relatively short-muzzled and round-faced with prominent whiskers and white chin.
Aside from the Asian tiger, lions are the largest living cats and the largest living African predator. Both body size and appearance differ between environments, being the result of a combination of the type of prey consumed and the population’s inherent genetic variation. The lack of genetic variation between lion populations is important as it forces the species into bottlenecks.
Adult males from southern Africa have a mean body mass of 190,200 kg and females 125,140 kg. The maximum recorded weight for males in Kruger National Park was 225 kg and for females 152 kg. This is more than the maximum weight of lions in East Africa, where males weighed 180 kg and females 120 kg.
A record 272 kg man was shot dead near Mount Kenya. In the Etosha National Park in Namibia, males reach a weight of 260 kg and females 165 kg. The lion has the typical body profile of a cat, with a strong, muscular body, short stocky legs, enlarged paws, and prominent shoulders that protrude slightly beyond the line of the spine when walking.
Adult males reach an average shoulder height of 125 cm and adult females an average of 100 cm. The total length of the body from the nostril to the end of the tail can reach up to 200 cm in males and 180 cm in females. Adult males have a mane of thick, dark, reddish fur up to 16 cm (6 in) long around their necks, extending down the throat between the front legs and to the chest in zoo and desert lion populations. .The lions of Somalia, Ethiopia and Northeast Africa are lacking manes.
Only four of the five front spoor pads are moulded, the fifth being well above the others at the rear of the leg.. The front spoor of an adult lioness measures 140×150 mm and the male, 160×170 mm. The hind paws have four digits with four cushion prints and are 130×125 mm in a female and 155×145 mm in a male. The prints do not show claw markings as the strong, bent claws 25-30 mm long retract into the nail bed during normal movement.