Rhett Butler founded Mongabay in 1999 with the mission of raising interest in and appreciation of wild lands and wildlife. For the first ten years of the project, he operated Mongabay on his own, publishing thousands of stories and tens of thousands of photos.
Today Rhett Butler serves as editor-in-chief and CEO of Mongabay, a non-profit media organization with more than three dozen staff across four bureaus (Global, Indonesia, Latin America, and India) and a network of around 250 correspondents in 50 countries who pursue stories ranging from conventional news articles to deeply-reported investigative projects.
Beyond Mongabay, Rhett Butler runs WildMadagascar.org, a site that highlights the spectacular cultural and biological richness of Madagascar and reports on environmental news for the Indian Ocean island nation.
Rhett Butler is also co-founder of Tropical Conservation Science, an open-access academic journal that aims to provide opportunities for scientists in developing countries to publish their research, and the Tropical Forest Network, a social network in the San Francisco Bay Area broadly interested in tropical forest conservation and ecology.
Outside of these pursuits, Rhett Butler has advised a wide range of organizations, including governments, multilateral development agencies, media outlets, academic institutions, foundations, and private sector entities. He has been an information source for the BBC, CNN, CBS, NBC, Fox News, National Geographic, the Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, Business Week, Bloomberg, the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Reuters, Voice of America, the Associated Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the L.A. Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Forbes, among others.
Rhett Butler also speaks regularly on topics surrounding forests and the environment (especially trends in deforestation) and new media. He has spoken at Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Santa Cruz, the National University of Singapore, USAID, ETH Zurich, Yale, Princeton, the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, UNFCCC COP, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and Stony Brook University, among other places and events. In 2011 and 2012 he participated in the U.S. State Department Speakers Program in Indonesia.
Rhett Butler’s work has been published outside of his web sites, including magazines, newspapers, online media, and academic journals (see below). His photos have appeared in hundreds of publications.
In September 2011 Rhett Butler published RAINFORESTS, a book about rainforests geared toward kids. The text is based on the popular mongabay kids’ section and includes more than 150 photos.
In April 2012 Rhett Butler hired a team in Indonesia to run mongabay.co.id, an Indonesian-language provider of environmental news and analysis. Mongabay.co.id officially launched in May 2012. In June 2016, he launched Mongabay-Latam, a Spanish-language news service for Latin America. In January 2018, Mongabay launched in India.
Rhett Butler has been profiled in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Wall Street Journal, Voice of America and The Almanac, among other publications.
In September 2014, Rhett Butler became the first journalist to win the Parker/Gentry Award, a conservation prize given annually by the Field Museum in Chicago.
See Rhett Butler’s motivation for starting mongabay.com. Further background on Rhett Butler is available at the FAQs/Interview page