Me looking at aquatic plants in Madagascar

In the rainforest

My interest in wildlife and tropical rainforests began at an early age when my parents introduced me to nature books and magazines. I was fascinated by the pictures of strange animals living in distant lands and as I got older, my mother and father encouraged my learning by taking me on trips to other countries so I could see wildlife firsthand. I grew to greatly appreciate places of natural beauty and respect the environment around me.

Over the years I have seen many incredible places and met many wonderful people: I have swam with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands, watched lemurs sing and dance in Madagascar, spent time with native Amazonians in Peru, and had many other amazing adventures. I have also become increasingly aware of the changes brought about by human activities. Some of the special places I so enjoyed are no longer around today. My inspiration for this rainforest project comes from a particular experience in the rainforest of Borneo (Borneo is an island in southeast Asia) when a section of rainforest was destroyed by loggers.

Today I spend a great deal of time reading, writing, traveling to tropical places, and talking with scientists doing research on rainforests. My goal is to raise awareness, interest, and appreciation of wildlands like tropical rainforests. It is not to late to save these special places and I hope that my work will someday inspire people to make a positive difference in the world around them.

My talk at TEDxYouth in Palo Alto, California

What I was doing at your age

My trips to Madagascar

More about the site

By Rhett Butler
Date published: June 24, 2004 | Last updated: Dec 5, 2015

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  • May I use graphics from mongabay.com for my projects? Yes, you may provided that you don't remove the mongabay label from the images. You may use information from the site for class projects and can cite kids.mongabay.com as the source.
  • Is this web site credible? Mongabay is the world's most popular source for information on tropical forests. The site is highly acclaimed by a number of the world's leading tropical scientists and is run independently, meaning it is has no affiliation with advocacy groups or outside corporations. Rhett Butler, who founded Mongabay in 1999 and runs the site today, has published several scientific papers.
  • Can I interview the founder of mongabay.com for my school project? Unfortunately due to the large number of requests and the need to work on the main Mongabay site, Rhett is not available for interviews. However he has answered some common questions on the Rainforest Interview page.
  • Do you have any games or activities? Currently there are a few on the resources page. There may be more in the future.
  • Who are some scientists who study rainforests? Take a look at the Interviews with rainforest experts page.
  • How can I help save rainforests? Some ideas are listed on the Rainforest Solutions page.
  • Where can I learn more about rainforests? There is a wealth of information at the main rainforest site

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