This species is restricted to mainly mountainous forested areas in central and western parts of Hainan Island, off southern China. Population size is unknown, but the species is believed to be rare and declining.
The species is thought to be threatened since its evergreen forest habitat is under threat from illegal clearance for timber and agricultural expansion. Local tradition of trapping forest rodents for food may pose an additional threat because gymnures share the same habitat.
No specific conservation measures are in place, although most forests where the species currently occurs have been designated as nature reserves. Habitat protection is the most important conservation action required, and this species should be taken into consideration when establishing nature reserves on Hainan. Further surveys are needed to establish the exact distribution of the species, followed by research into the animal’s ecology and habitat so that appropriate conservation actions can be implemented.
Very little is known about the Hainan gymnure. It was originally described as being subterranean, but it is now thought that it merely uses burrows as refuges rather than foraging underground. As with most insectivores, it is nocturnal or crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk), and feeds on beetles and other insects. It is recorded from primary and disturbed tropical rainforest, apparently preferring areas with wood- or rock piles; it was thought to prefer higher altitude but has recently also been found down to c.500 m. This species was formerly classified as Hylomys hainanensis, and now represents the only species in the genus Neohylomys.