For its 125th anniversary, National Geographic named Bryan Christy’s work one of ten ways National Geographic had changed the world. An author and freelance journalist, Christy focuses on international crime, culture, and the exploitation of endangered resources. Much of his work is for National Geographic. He has worked as a Contributing Writer to National Geographic magazine, as an Explorer Program TV correspondent, and as a National Geographic Society Fellow. In 2014 he was named National Geographic’s Explorer of the Year.


Christy’s work has resulted in the arrest and conviction of wildlife traffickers around the world, the passage of new wildlife law, and the elevation of wildlife crime to a serious crime worthy of discussion among heads of state. His investigations in China helped catalyze the closure of China’s ivory industry. 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. He has helped expose the internationalization of America’s opioid epidemic, and profiteering in America’s prison system.

Christy uses innovative techniques to develop his stories. For his National Geographic cover story, Tracking Ivory, he designed fake elephant tusks armed with satellite-based GPS systems to hunt terrorists operating in central Africa. This groundbreaking investigation was the subject of the Emmy-nominated documentary, Warlords of Ivoryshown at the United Nations.

For his role in Warlords of Ivory, Christy won a Panda Award for Best Presenter at Wildscreen, the wildlife film and TV industry’s top awards competition.  He also won The United Nations/C.I.T.E.S International Elephant Film Festival Issues and Solutions Award; The Tusk Conservation Achievement Award for Media and Film; the New York Wild Film Festival Award for Best Conservation Film; and the S.M.A.S.H.: Science Media Award for Best Conservation Film.

Christy’s 2012 National Geographic cover story Blood Ivory 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.

Christy is author of The Lizard King: the true crimes and passions of the world’s greatest reptile smugglers (TWELVE), optioned for a forthcoming crime series. In researching that book he was bitten between the eyes by a blood python, chased by a mother alligator, sprayed by a bird-eating tarantula, and ejaculated on by a Bengal tiger.

His non-fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing, and recognized by the Society of Environmental Journalists. In addition to National Geographic, he has written for Foreign Policy, Playboy, and law journals. 

He is a frequent public speaker, sharing his experiences leading international criminal investigations and the power of creative problem solving.  His media appearances include The Daily ShowCNN’s Amanpour, BBC, Al Jazeera America, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC, NPR’s Fresh Air w Terry Gross, Nightline, PBS NewsHour, Special Report w Bret Baier, The Diane Rehm ShowHe was named a Centennial Speaker by the US Department of Justice and he has testified on terrorism in Africa before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Christy began his professional career working for his father as a mortician’s apprentice. Things got brighter, gradually, from there. He practiced as a certified public accountant  (CPA) in New York City and as a 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 Pennsylvania State University, Cornell University Graduate School (FALCON Program), the University of Michigan Law School, and Tokyo University Law School (where he was a Fulbright Scholar). He is an Explorers Club Fellow.

Bryan Christy, National Geographic EXPLORER, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah