The Order of insectivora includes moles, tree shrews and hedgehogs. Common throughout the temperate and tropical zones, a number of species—notably the Cuban solenodon and the Haitian solenodon—are endangered, primarily due to land development and deforestation caused by a rapidly expanding human population.
The lack of data on species is a major concern as it impedes any conservation or remedial action.
In western Europe the removal of hedgerows, an expanding road network, increasing use of fertilizer and pesticides and the drainage of wetlands is having a significant impact on the number and distribution of many species. Pollution of fresh water systems and the construction of hydro-electric dams and canals play havoc on aquatic species such asthe desmans and water shrews.
In south east Asia human encroachment into tropical forests and wetland drainage is destroying prime habitat, leading to habitat fragmentation and the isolation of small, vulnerable populations.
Insectivores are the third largest order of mammals, with 423 species recognised, after rodents and bats. They are largely confined to the northern temperate zones of North America, Europe, the former Soviet Union, Africa and southern Asia. Tree shrews (Order Scandentia) which constitutes 19 species and the elephant shrews of Africa (Order Macroscelidea) which constitutes 19 species were once all contained in the Order Insectivora.
Due to the secretive and nocturnal behaviour of many insectivores they have been neglected or overlooked in many field surveys and as a consequence little is known about the distribution, behaviour or ecology of these animals. Fossil evidence indicates that the most primitive placental animals were insectivores, with todays species representative of the ancestral stock from which modern mammals derived.
According to the IUCN categories 13 species are listed as "Critically Endangered", 30 species as "Endangered", 22 species as "Vulnerable", 3 species as "Lower Risk" subcategory "near threatened" and 6 species as "Data Deficient".