bio

Bryan Christy is a novelist and investigative journalist.

On The Daily Show w/ Trevor Noah

Before turning to fiction, Christy was director of Special Investigations for National Geographic. For its 125th anniversary, National Geographic declared his work ‘one of ten ways National Geographic had changed the world.’ In 2014, the National Geographic Society named him Rolex Explorer of the Year

Christy is author of The Lizard King: the true crimes and passions of the world’s greatest reptile smugglers (TWELVE)His crime writing has been anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing.

He has appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, RTL Late Night (Netherlands), NPR’s Fresh Air w Terry Gross (and here), CNN’s Amanpour, BBC, Nightline, PBS NewsHour. He has worked as an Explorer program television presenter and starred in two award-winning documentaries on international wildlife crime.

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As a journalist, Christy has helped expose international wildlife trafficking syndicates, terrorism in Africa, the internationalization of America’s opioid epidemic, and profiteering in America’s private prison system. 

He uses innovative techniques to develop his stories. For Tracking Ivory (National Geographic, Oct. 2015), he designed fake elephant tusks armed with satellite-based GPS systems to hunt terrorists operating in central Africa. During the course of this project, Christy was arrested in Tanzania and held as a suspected ivory trafficker. This groundbreaking investigation was the magazine’s cover story and the subject of the Emmy-nominated documentary, Warlords of Ivory, which was shown at the United Nations.  

For his lead role in Warlords, Christy won a Wildscreen Panda Award for Best Presenter, the wildlife film and TV industry’s top prize. He also won: 

  • The United Nations/C.I.T.E.S International Elephant Film Festival Issues and Solutions Award 
  • Tusk Conservation Achievement Award for Media and Film
  • New York Wild Film Festival Award for Best Conservation Film
  • S.M.A.S.H.: Science Media Award for Best Conservation Film.
  • Tracking Ivory won the Kevin Carmody Outstanding Award for Investigative Journalism, second prize, from the Society of Environmental Journalists. 

Christy’s cover story Blood Ivory (National Geographic, Oct. 2012) took readers inside China’s ivory carving industry, revolutionized global ivory trade policy discussions, and was made into the National Geographic-PBS documentary feature film Battle for the Elephants, which won Best Conservation Film at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.

His “results-oriented reporting” technique has led to the arrest and conviction of criminal traffickers around the world, the passage of new laws, and the elevation of wildlife trafficking to “serious crime” internationally. His years-long investigations in China helped catalyze the official closure of China’s ivory carving industry in 2017. His investigations into religious links to the ivory trade led to police raids on ivory shops in Italy, the Philippines, and Vatican City; the firing of a pedophile monsignor; and the condemnation of the ivory trade by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and Pope Francis. Courts in the U.S. and Malaysia have cited his work, as have Malaysian members of parliament.

He has testified before Congress on terrorism in Africa and has lectured for law enforcement around the world, including for INTERPOL, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Australasia’s AELERT, US Dept. of State, New York DEC, CITES, and groups of national judges and prosecutors. The US Justice Department named him a Centennial Speaker. He teaches investigative journalism around the world.

He began his professional career working as a mortician’s apprentice in his family’s funeral home. He practiced as a certified public accountant in New York City and as an international lawyer in Tokyo and Washington, DC where he worked on such topics as US-Japan supercomputer trade, Norwegian whaling, and the sale of light water nuclear reactors to North Korea.

His education includes Penn State, Cornell’s FALCON Program, University of Michigan Law School, and Tokyo University Law School. He was a Fulbright Program Graduate Research Fellow, a National Geographic Society Fellow, 2014-17, and is an Explorers Club Fellow.