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 500 correspondents in 70 countries who pursue stories ranging from conventional news articles to deeply-reported investigative projects.
Beyond Mongabay, Rhett Butler founded 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 (acquired by SAGE Publications in August 2016), 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.
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. In 2019, Mongabay hired its first staff in Brazil.
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.