In 1999, Butler’s passion for nature and wildlife led him to found Mongabay, a site dedicated to raising interest in and appreciation of wildlife and wild lands as well as promoting awareness of environmental issues and examining the impact of emerging trends in climate, economics, technology, and finance on conservation and development. Today, the site receives more than two million unique visitors each month and is available in three dozen non-English languages.
As the 2014 recipient of the Parker/Gentry Award, Butler is being recognized as an individual whose efforts have had a significant effect on preserving what the Filed Museum describes as “the world’s rich natural heritage.” The award also recognizes him as a role model for others. Field Museum explains its selection of Butler as this year’s award recipient saying, “Mongabay is widely known for its credible reporting and is frequently a source of information on tropical forests for mainstream media outlets.”
In addition to Mongabay, Butler has founded additional websites and organizations to support his conservation efforts. At WildMadagascar.org, Butler focuses on sharing information about the wildlife and environment of Madagascar. Mongabay-Indonesia launched in 2012 and is operated entirely by Indonesian locals. Also in 2012, Butler opened Mongabay.org, which is a non-profit organization that develops environmental educational programs and journalism programs.
Mongabay also offers a rainforest site for children that is available in nearly 40 languages. In addition, the Tropical Forest Network (a social network) operates in the San Francisco Bay area of California, and Tropical Conservation Science, a peer-reviewed academic journal, offers scientists in developing countries the opportunity to publish their research.
If you haven’t visited Mongabay, take some time to check it out. The travel photos page, which includes Rhett’s personal photos from his conservation-related travels between 1994 and today, is a must-see. For teachers, you can find a number of lesson plans and educational resources within the Kids section of the site. Also, the deforestation tracker from the Global Forest Disturbance Alert System (GloF-DAS) provides data and a map about worldwide forest disturbance.
Please join Newstex in congratulating Rhett Butler on receiving this well-deserved award.