bio

For its 125th year anniversary, National Geographic cited Bryan Christy’s writing as one of ten ways National Geographic had changed the world. He is founder of the Special Investigations Unit at National Geographic, a National Geographic Society Fellow, an Explorer program television correspondent, and in 2014 was named the National Geographic Society’s Explorer of the Year.

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Christy’s non-fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing, and has appeared in Foreign Policy, National GeographicPlayboy, and law journals. His storytelling has been recognized by the Society of Environmental Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and he was named a Centennial Speaker by the US Department of Justice.

His National Geographic cover story, Tracking Ivory, examined links between ivory trafficking and terrorism using a fake elephant tusk armed with GPS trackers. This groundbreaking investigation was the subject of the Emmy-nominated documentary film, Warlords of Ivory, starring Christy. The film, which was shown at the United Nations, and launched the 2015 Jackson Hole Film Festival African Elephant summit, has won numerous awards, including:

  • The 2016 United Nations/C.I.T.E.S International Elephant Film Festival Winner: Issues and Solutions Award.
  • The 2016 Tusk Conservation Achievement Award for Media and Film
  • New York Wild Film Festival: Best Conservation Film.
  • 2016 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Cinematography In A Documentary (Toby Strong and JJ Kelley).
  • 2016 Wildscreen Panda winner: Best Presenter: Bryan Christy.
  • 2016 S.M.A.S.H.: Science Media Award winner: 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). 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.

He is a frequent public speaker, sharing with audiences his experiences running 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 Show, Kilmeade & Friends.

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 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, in WARLORDS OF IVORY