Walter Stapley was a medical doctor (MD) who also qualified as a veterinarian (MRCVS) in London in December 1892. In 1896 he and others, including J.W. Baxter*, were appointed as assistant veterinary surgeons by the Natal Civil Veterinary Department on the recommendation of the Stock Commission to assist the colony in combating rinderpest. He was stationed in Newcastle and it is recorded that he made the first diagnosis of rinderpest in Natal on 15 July 1897, just outside Dundee. His report to his superiors on Dr Robert Koch's* proposed treatment of this disease was also published in the British Veterinary Journal in 1897 and during 1898 he published three minor articles in the Natal Agricultural and Mining Record dealing with mealie poisoning, swallowing foreign bodies by cattle, and Stiffsickness. By 1898 he was district veterinary surgeon at Newcastle. During that year he offered a microscope for sale to the government and resigned his post to return to England at the end of the year.
In 1905 Walter Stapley, MD, then living in Palmerston North, New Zealand, wrote to the Natal government to ask what the requirements were for registration as a medical practitioner.