Nat Geo to relaunch ‘Explorer’ with “Warlords of Ivory”

The U.S. cable net will relaunch the long-running science and natural history documentary strand with an investigation into the impact of the global ivory trade in Africa, featuring reporter Bryan Christy (pictured).
August 12, 2015

‘Explorer’ will return to National Geographic Channel later this month with a documentary on elephant poaching.

As previously reported, the U.S. cable network will relaunch the doc strand following a five-year hiatus on August 30 at 8 p.m. EST/PST with Explorer: Warlords of Ivory. The doc follows National Geographic magazine special investigation correspondent Bryan Christy (pictured) as he commissions a taxidermist to create an artificial elephant tusk using a custom-made GPS to track the illegal ivory trade in Africa.

The result of his investigation will also be featured in the September issue of the magazine, which hits digital newsstands on August 12 and print newsstands on August 25.

“The broad strokes of the ivory poaching tragedy are well documented: some 30,000 African elephants are slaughtered every year for their tusks; thousands of people are attacked, raped and murdered in the path of destruction paid for in part by the trade,” the network said in a statement. “Until now, no one has been able to show how the pieces of this deadly puzzle connect — how the ivory is stripped from the corpses of elephants systematically killed by increasingly militarized poachers.”

Warlords of Ivory was produced by National Geographic Studios, with Jared Lipworth and Dave Snyder serving as executive producers. Robert Palumbo exec produced for the network.

On the same night the doc airs, sister network Nat Geo Wild will air the one-hour special Elephant Queen as part of a cross-platform push to raise awareness around African elephant protection. The film – which airs at 9 p.m. EST/PST – follows the plight of an elephant matriarch after the death of one of her daughters.

‘Explorer’ will continue to air monthly, with each of the season’s 12 episodes tied to a story that is also appearing in that month’s edition of National Geographic magazine. As previously reported, future topics will include the evolution of the eye, the ongoing conflict inside the Congo’s Virunga National Park and Mary, the mother of Jesus.

In recent years, National Geographic Channel shifted its programming focus to character-led docuseries, but the network is now once again putting a greater emphasis on science and natural history-related programs and documentaries.

Projects announced during the Television Critics Association summer press tour include the miniseries Red Planet, produced by Imagine Entertainment and Radical Media; Billy the Kid: New Evidence from Leftfield Pictures and 18Thirty Entertainment; and Parched, produced by Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions as both a miniseries and a theatrical feature doc.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.