Dr. Nikki le Roex

My broad research interest lies in the use of genetic data to answer questions pertaining to the population structure, genetics, conservation and management of wildlife populations. More specifically, undertaking research that has a practical application in conservation issues and is sought after by conservation and management bodies. With human encroachment into previously uninhabited areas and the decline of wildlife populations due to poaching and other human-mediated activities, it will become increasingly important to manage the remaining wildlife populations in the best way possible. For this, genetic information is critical.

My current research focuses on the population structure and viability of black rhino in South African National Parks. Black rhino within South Africa were re-introduced by SANParks management, and many of the current populations were founded with less than ten individuals. As such, there is a pressing need to understand the genetic viability and breeding success of these populations in order to inform management decisions. This research evaluates the feasibility of non-invasive genetic sampling as a long-term monitoring strategy for black rhino in South Africa, and will determine population size, inbreeding, relatedness and the breeding success of individuals. The pilot study is underway, with a view to analysing a further four populations within the country over the next few years. Other research includes elucidating the spatial genetic structure of Cape clawless otters in the Cape Peninsula, and determining the genetic diversity of cheetah in South Africa for metapopulation management.


  1. le Roex, N., Jolles, A., Beechler, B., van Helden, P. & Hoal, E. (2016) Toll-like Receptor (TLR) diversity influences mycobacterial growth in buffalo. Tuberulosis. Submitted.
  2. Glanzmann, B.; Möller, M.; le Roex, N.; Tromp, G.; Hoal, E.; van Helden, P. (2016) The complete genome sequence of the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer). BMC Genomics. Accepted.
  3. le Roex, N, Berrington, C, Hoal, EG & van Helden, PD. (2015) Breeding TB-resistant African buffalo: the future of BTB management? Acta Tropica. doi:1016/j.actatropica.2015.05.012
  4. le Roex, N, Cooper, D, van Helden, PD, Hoal, EG, Jolles, AE. (2015) Disease control in wildlife: Evaluating a test and cull programme for bovine tuberculosis in African buffalo. Transbound Emerg Dis. doi: 10.1111/tbed.12329
  5. le Roex, N, van Helden, PD, Koets, AP & Hoal, EG (2013) Bovine TB in livestock and wildlife: what’s in the genes? Genomics. doi:10.1152/physiolgenomics.00061.2013
  6. le Roex N, Koets AP, van Helden PD, Hoal EG. (2013) Gene Polymorphisms in African buffalo associated with susceptibility to bovine tuberculosis infection. PLoS ONE 8(5): e64494, 2013.
  7. le Roex N, Noyes H, Brass A, Bradley DG, Kemp SJ, et al. (2012) Novel SNP Discovery in African Buffalo, Syncerus caffer, Using High-Throughput Sequencing. PLoS ONE 7: e48792.

Popular Articles

  1. le Roex, N. How translocating rhinos promotes genetic health and keeps them safe. (2015) The Conversation.
  2. le Roex, N. Why BTB threatens more than just cattle. (2015) The Conversation.