Author and independent investigative journalist Bryan Christy has also worked as an embalmer, a whitewater kayaking guide, a NASCAR team consultant, a certified public accountant, and an international trade lawyer.
On The Daily Show w/ Trevor Noah
Christy’s storytelling focuses on transnational organized crime and the people behind it. He is founder and former director of Special Investigations at National Geographic magazine where he designed and led numerous international wildlife trafficking investigations. For its 125th anniversary, National Geographic named Christy’s investigative work one of ten ways National Geographic had changed the world. In 2014, the National Geographic Society named him Explorer of the Year.
He 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 and has appeared in Foreign Policy, National Geographic and Playboy.
He has appeared on The Daily Show, NPR’s Fresh Air w Terry Gross, CNN’s Amanpour, BBC, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC, Nightline, PBS NewsHour, The Diane Rehm Show. He has worked as an Explorer program television presenter and starred in two award-winning documentaries on international wildlife crime.
Christy helped expose international ivory and rhino horn trafficking syndicates, terrorism in Africa’s parks, the internationalization of America’s opioid epidemic, transnational wildlife trafficking, and profiteering in America’s private prison system.
Christy uses innovative techniques to develop his “results-oriented reporting” 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 the Warlords documentary, Christy won a Wildscreen 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; 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. 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. For example, 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 relied on his work, as have Malaysian members of parliament.
He 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 Department of Justice named him a Centennial Speaker, and he has testified on terrorism in Africa before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Congress.
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 in New York City and as an international trade 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, a summer at the Iowa Writers Workshop with James Alan McPherson, and Tokyo University Law School (where he was a Fulbright Scholar). He is an Explorers Club Fellow.